Fifteen Dogs

Prince’s Poetic Symbolism in Fifteen Dogs College

In Andre Alexis’ novel, Fifteen Dogs, a group of dogs are given the ‘gift’ of human intelligence by the Gods Hermes and Apollo. Each dog experiences their new consciousness in diverse courses, for instance by rejecting or embracing it. Prince, a dog granted with the intelligence, grasps it with excitement. Faced with difficult circumstances, Prince uses language to make connections and deeper understandings. Poetry ultimately frees him by creating clarity in troublesome situations, which allows him to die the happiest from the rest of the dogs.

The theme of language is first demonstrated when Prince uses poetry as a means to communicate with the group of ‘gifted’ dogs. When initially gifted, he seeks an understanding of the world around him by exploring puns and other play on words. Even with the disapproval of some of the dogs, he will not stop exploring and is “encouraged by others, [so] his play with language was a constant affront to clarity” (Alexis, 28). Prince desires to communicate with the group through this foreign use of their tongue, and receives mixed reactions: “It seemed to Frick and Frack as if Prince were intent on destroying their spirit” versus a a number of the dogs who felt that his play on words “brought...

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