IB-Prep Honors English 09
23 April 2015
Development is the foundation of everyone's beliefs, values, ideas, and everything about them, and because everyone develops under different circumstances it is only natural that people will grow to be their own individual. This is why everyone has a different interpretation of information that is presented to them, and because the information is perceived differently, so is the way different people handle the situation. The poem The Revenant, by Billy Collins portrays the relationship between a man and his dog who was grievously put down. The dog is is personified as writing the poem, and when the dog describes what he wishes he would have done it is clear that he holds resentment for man. The dog insists that the way people generally treat animals is not humane, and It is this type of contradiction of societal beliefs that is used throughout the poem that makes the reader question if the way he thinks is the correct way. The author presents the idea that perception is something exclusive to a single individual by using imagery to challenge mainstream ideas that society has inflicted upon the population from youth.
The human’s misinterpretations concerning the dogs requirements in terms of emotions and physical needs causes a divide between their perceptions. The dog holds feelings of hostility for the human because of this, and it is expressed many times in the poem. An example of his anger is shown when the human is drying himself off, and the dog gets the urge to mutilate his genitals. However, the dog would not feel this way if the human did not misunderstand him, and the dog would have no reason to resent the human if he gave him everything needed. But the human cannot, and does not give the dog everything he needs, so the dog becomes morbid, and says, “When I watched you towel yourself dry, / I wanted to leap and unman you with a snap,” (ll. 7,8). The reason the author uses tactile imagery in the following excerpt is to highlight the dogs resentment for the human, and he does this effectively by utilizing words like “snap,” and “unman,” to illustrate the dogs fury. Because the dog and the human cannot communicate what they want from each other they are left with different Images of themselves, and have to interpret the others wishes based on their past experiences. In other words, the human believes he is being a good owner, and if the dog resents he is seen as a deviant hound for attacking the human who is keeping him captive, and not providing basic necessities. The dog is put in a strange position, because if he uses hostilities to express his desires he is seen as evil, and most likely would be put down. On the other hand if he is passive he wont get what he needs, and will continue to be suppressed, and this is disappointing because the dog clearly states he did not want anything beyond the bare minimum from the human. The significance of this is, the dog was not very demanding, yet the human still failed to meet his expectations. The human believed that he was doing the dog a favor by treating him the way he did, but this is clearly not the case. This next statement explains that the dog would have preferred only being supplied only the minimum supplies needed to support life as opposed to living his life under the human’s reign, “All I ever wanted from you / was food and fresh water in my metal bowls” (ll. 27,28). The author makes use of organic imagery in the example Above to evoke emotion by victimising the dog in order to polarize the two perceptions. The dog is clearly feeling stressed and overwhelmed because of the way he was treated. The human misinterprets the dogs being distraught as happiness, and as a result he becomes nothing but a trigger for the dogs rebellious tendencies. The greatest gap between their perceptions concerns the humans decision to euthanize the dog. The dog is depicted as immensely upset when he introduces himself at the beginning of the poem, “I am the dog you put to sleep, / as you like to call the needle of oblivion,” (ll. 1,2). There is clearly sorrow in the dogs voice when he says this, and author uses visual imagery to reinforce the image of the dogs euthanization into the mind of the reader; he does this to show the severity of the humans decision, and how the dog is affected. The human is under the impression that he was assisting the dog by putting an end to his suffering, but in reality was he really? In the dogs eyes, he was ending a world he was perfectly ok with inhabiting. The human is guilty of bringing about the dogs demise based on a whim that he had. This illuminates the humans inability to see past himself and understand the dog because of the misconceptions he has blinded himself with.
The lack of communication between the two was also detrimental to the development of their separate perceptions. An example of an incidence where lack of communication lead to their perceptions going down different paths is shown when the dog references things the human thought he loved. He states, “I hated the car, the rubber toys, / disliked your friends and, worse, your relatives.” (ll. 23,24). From The above it is safe to assume the dog does not actually enjoy the things the human assumed he believed. Had the lines of communication been more open the human would not have taken the dog for car rides, brung his loved ones near him, or purchase him rubber toys. The author almost forces the reader to rally against the human by withdrawing hatred from their arsenal of emotions with his genius use of organic imagery. The dog and the human share a hostile relationship because they are unable to discuss their likes and dislikes to each other, so they are forced to assume, and as a result, when the dog is dead, he angrily claims, “Now I am free of the collar, / the yellow raincoat, monogrammed sweater,” (ll. 33,34). With that said it is clear that the dog does not enjoy being dressed up. It is easy for the reader to imagine the dog being unhappily dressed in ugly attire; Collins uses this image to show the difference between their perspectives. The dog sees himself as being forced to wear a uniforms hat symbolizes his lack of control, but the human sees this as a cute novelty meant to increase the dogs image. Because the dog is incapable of relaying his discomfort with being dressed up to the human just does it and sees it as funny, not harmful. When the dog is referring things the human did that irritated him he mentions, “You always scratched me in the wrong place,” (ll. 26). This is the simplest example that reiterates the fact that the origin of the dogs hatred is related to their inability to communicate . The dog had no way of communicating which spots he enjoyed being scratched at because he could not speak to the human in a way that he could recognize. The author makes it obvious that the human took it upon himself to decide which spots to scratch by making the reader feel itchy with his use of tactile imagery. Providing there is no way to communicate between two parties, the opposite one will just decide for the other which results in tension between the two.
With imagery, the author explains how everyone perceives thing in a different manner by opposing the ideas society has conditioned people to believe. Conflict is caused by the lack of acceptance, and not seeing things from others points of view. This lack of understanding is directly related to humanity's incompetent communication skills. The manner in which individuals interpret information is what defines them; perception is the DNA of personality, it codes for a person's reactions to events, their morals, values, and everything they identify with. Regardless of how people title themselves everyone deserves to receive the same opportunities and consequences without having their views and statuses considered before hand.