Sublime and Fantastic Elements in The Day We Were Dogs

Sublime and Fantastic Elements in The Day We Were Dogs

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Sublime and Fantastic Elements in The Day We Were Dogs

   "The Day We Were Dogs" is a short story written by an author born in Puebla, Mexico, in 1993. Elena Garro's major themes revolve around the concepts of time and memory. I do not believe this story is a true example of magical realism; however I do see the sublime and the fantastic used in this story.

I think that this story is really a misidentification of magical realism. To start out, I was moved by the way the author talked about a day with two days inside of it. How could this occurrence be? It is two days and two realities. There also were two afternoons and two heavens, dogs talking, dogs named Buddha and Christ. I just see Garro trying to imitate magical realism, but she did a bad job of it. I do have to give her credit for bringing the sublime and the fantastic in, though.

The characteristics of magical realism are phenomenal, deeper realm, visibility, mysterious, opinionated, timeless fluidity, and fascinating. This story has none of those characteristics, or at least it does not express them the way a magical realism story would. "We recognize the world, although now-not only because we have emerged from a dream-we look on it with new eyes"(Roh 17). I see what Roh is trying to say about magical realism, and I do not think one can use these certain strategies to figure out this story because it is fantastical and sublime.

The fantastic is characterized by the marvelous, the uncanny, the natural, and the supernatural. The marvelous to me in this story would be the two parallel days. It seems so normal how Garro talks about it. They looked at one day or thing and saw what happened, and then they looked at another. Being able to experience time this way seems so wild and crazy. Rabkin states that "we recognize this reversal (90 to 180) through certain textual (signals):the reactions of the characters, the statements of the narrators, and the implications of structures provided by implied authors."(Rabkin 11). The story does show a big reversal as the dogs act as dogs and the people act as dogs. Also, the character questions, "I'm a dog"? Then another dog replies, "Yes we are dogs." I saw that later on in the story she realizes that she was a dog by replying ,"Woof, Woof, Woof," when someone asked her a question.

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I think the sublime hit the nail on the head. Schofenhauer states that " the import of the sublime is clearly that it plumbs the depths of natural, visible reality to evoke aesthetic and psychological experience of its hidden and its invisible dimension of mystery, magic, and spirituality" (461). The last selection in the story that could have represented the sublime was based upon a spiritual subject.Garro threw in Christ and Buddha in her story. Two dogs are representing the good and the evil. They realized in the end the heaven of men was not the same as the heaven of dogs. Their thoughts on that subject were that dogs had no heaven or hell; they just fell somewhere in between.

I do believe the fantastic and the sublime are clearly shown in this story. I think when an author mixes the two the story shows somewhat of a commotion. I think if magical realism was involved in this story, it would be an easier selection to read. The sublime and the fantastic are harder genres to pick up on than magical realism. Todorov states about his theory, "The fantastic implicitly includes most of the aspects of the other theories concerning the fantastic and because it is an open-ended conceptual construct that lends itself to further modification" (Todorov 14). I think that the fantastic is explained very well the way he talks about it. I was able to relate his words to this story. However, magical realism was not recognized or able to be understood throughout. Where Todorov says it is an open-ended conceptual construct that lends to (further modification), I think he means that one has to look even beyond the story and view it out of this world.

Whether or not a person will recognize the sublime, the fantastic, or magical realism, I do believe that one has to see the characteristics shown in the story to back up one's belief . In my opinion, there are no true characteristics of magical realism portrayed. There are definitely sublime and fantastic forms shown in many different ways. Every story must depend on every person's opinion or point of view. Every story has its characteristics that one could change to suit his or her own views. Where I see fantastic, one might see it as the sublime. I will always stand by thinking magical realism, the fantastic, and the sublime could be placed altogether if a person could organize a view of a story to some extent. Maybe for that reason, they are put as three different genres because it is so hard to get an organization as three and it is better to place them in their own categories.

Works Cited

Garro, Elena. "The Day We Were Dogs". Eds. Gabriella Ibieta St. Martin's Press New York. Pgs. 206-212.

Rabkin, Eric S. The Fantastical in Literature. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 1976.

Schopenhauer, Arthur. The World as Will and Idea! Philosophies of Art and Beauty. Eds. Albert Hofstadter and Richard Kuhns. Chicago: University of Chicago Press,1976. 448-468.

Todorov, Tzventon. The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Form. Cleveland: The Press of Case Western Reserve University, 1973.

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