Representations of Self and Other - An Analysis of Narrative Tone in Franz Kafka and Sara Baume
The way animals are represented in literature is often said to tell the reader more about the person writing the story than the animal being depicted. Nonhuman characters are expected to have predetermined features, for example, apes are mimetic and dogs are obedient and loyal. Dogs, in particular, are popular nonhuman characters in books, movies, and television shows. Man’s best friend occupies a kind of liminal space, existing in between the domestic life of humans and the wildness of animals.
The binary between what is human and what is animal is purely of social construction, and by focusing on animals as close to humanity as dogs, both Franz Kafka and Sara Baume destabilize this binary.
Through Kafka and Baume’s narrative styles and their depictions of dogs that do not follow the predetermined generic guidelines for what a dog should be, both authors successfully represent dogs as more than symbols pointing to humanity, and portray them as nonhuman others.
Although Kafka effectively blurs the line between what is human and what is animal, Baume succeeds in this field more effectively through her use of second-person narration, and crafts a character that is both incredibly relatable and alien, allowing the reader to fully explore the ways humans interact with and represent nonhuman populations.