Only the Animals: Stories Themes & Motifs

Ceridwen Dovey
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Performativity vs. Authenticity

Dovey's animal narrators engage with the tension between performativity and authenticity. As pets, many of Dovey's narrators live their lives by performing. In "Hundstage," the narrator's grandfather questions how he is "meant to behave," in effect, living his life by a set of preconceived standards rather than living as an authentic self (76). Similarly, Red Peter performs humanness from his first encounter with humans: literally, Red Peter begins his life as a circus animal, "reading beneath a spotlight...a performance for a raucous crowd" (54). Dovey's narrators do not draw attention to their own status as performers: they take their performances as an axiomatic part of relating to humans. Indeed, in "Hundstage," the narrator considers his grandfather's performance par for the course, for dogs want to please their masters; in "Red Peter's Little Lady," Red Peter considers his performance an enlightening experience, saying that as a...

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This section contains 1,985 words
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Buy the Only the Animals: Stories Study Guide
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