"The Day We Were Dogs," published in 1993 by Elena Garro, illustrates the common error of misidentification of Magical Realism. The fact that Garro is a Mexican author and that fantasy is so closely related to Magical Realism often causes the reader to associate this particular work with Magical Realism. However, this work also contains fantastic elements as well as sublime characteristics, which make it difficult to classify as a strictly Magical Realist work.
As "The Day We Were Dogs" can be interpreted in so many different ways, the explanation of the details of the story become much more difficult. Are the two girls, Eva and Leli, pretending to be dogs or did they actually become dogs for a day? Each reader may have a different view of this important question, and this view may alter how he or she classifies this work.
The short story does contain several magical elements and even fulfills several of the characteristics of Magical Realism as described by Faris. Should one assume the girls are actually in the canine form, one should notice that the girls are understood by the people around, even though Toni is not. The servants understand when the girls tell them to prepare lunch for three dogs. The men at the murder scene, as well, understand the "dogs" when they question what the dogs saw. This interspecies communication holds a magical aspect due to its nonoccurance in reality (Faris 167). The communication that exists between the "dogs" and Toni, another dog, one could understand. Toni communicates by some speech, but mostly by his actions. He bares his teeth during lunch so he might take the meat and, therefore, prove himself to be the head of the pecking ord...
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...the story goes against its classification of Magical Realism in that hesitation occurs by both the reader and the characters. Where does one classify such a work? That answer truly depends upon one's own interpretation and opinion.
Faris, Wendy B. "Scheherazade's Children: Magical Realism and Postmodern Fiction." Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Ed. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham, N.C.: Duke UP, 1995: 163-190.
Garro, Elena. "The Day We Were Dogs." Latin American Writers: Thirty Short Stories. Ed. Gabriella Ibieta. New York, N.Y.: St. Martin's Press, 1993: 206-212.
Simpkins, Scott. "Sources of Magical Realism/ Supplements to Realism in Contemporary Latin American Literature."
Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Ed. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham, N.C.: Duke
UP, 1995: 145-159.
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