Saturday, February 2, 2008

Living Trees and Human Dogs

I find it interesting that Septimus’s delusions seem to play out in other parts of the story. According to Septimus the first “supreme secret” is that “trees are alive” (66). While true in a scientific sense and completely irrational, if by alive he means like a person, one particular tree takes on a very human role. Sylvie Dalloway was “killed by a falling tree” (76). In another example of a plant’s human-like qualities (or Clarissa’s lack of them), “People were beginning to compare [Clarissa] to popular trees” (191).

Another hallucination that seems to come to life is the idea of dogs turning into people. Septimus says, “It was turning into a man! He could not watch it happen…a dog become a man!” (66). Elizabeth’s two greatest loves are food and dogs. And Septimus describes his war experience with Evans like “two dogs playing on a hearth rug” (84). Both Elizabeth and Septimus certainly think of dogs in human terms.

Among the social, gender, and age conventions so clearly challenged in this book, is the traditional idea of sanity.

1 comment:

Erin Sells said...

Your comments on trees remind me of my favorite phrase in the novel, "that leaf-encumbered forest, the soul." Interestingly, it appears in a passage where Clarissa imagines Doris trampling all over everything...