“Puppy” by George Saunders is a fictional story. Marie and Callie are the main characters who are both struggling to raise their children with special needs. These women are both married, but the author refuses to give their husbands bigger roles in the writings. The love for their children and the need to keep them safe define Marie and Callie’s daily lives. The story begins with Marie’s struggle as a homemaker working hard to control her two children, Josh and Abbie. The last chapter introduces Callie and her family. She only has one child known as Bo. Her husband does not like puppies, forcing her to put an ad in order to make a sale as opposed having it killed. Bo, Callie’s son is a minor character with a special role in putting Saunders’ work into context. He has a condition that makes him a danger to himself. Dr. Brile says “… this boy is going to end up dead if you don’t get this under control. Is he taking the medication?” (Saunders 13). The mother is thus forced to use medicine and chain him outside under a tree in order to keep him safe from danger. Bo is a character that defines love in Callie’s world. In her world, she works to love everyone around her, protecting them from harm in an attempt to help them achieve their full potential.
Saunders attempts to present the role of parents in ensuring safety and order in family affairs. Bo’s rare condition makes him dart between vehicles within the estate, a behavior that puts him at risk of death. Callie is precautious of what may happen to her son. She takes Dr. Brile’s advice and ensures that he takes all the medications as per the prescription. The drugs seem to have negative side effects on the boy’s health. When left alone, Bo seems to be more disastrous, and the only way to keep him safe is to chain him outside. Through Bo, the author depicts a parent who struggles to ensure the safety of her child and is ready to go to great lengths in making crucial decisions over his health (Smith 44). The situation is different in Marie’s house where Josh also seems destructive. However, she fails to take necessary measures as a parent. According to the story, Marie paints a picture of happiness in weird ways. For instance, she allows Josh to destroy things in the house as she cheerfully watches. She offers Josh a video game in order to help calm him. A parent protects a child and the entire household as shown by Callie. As much as Bo likes walking around, the mother fears and has no alternative but to tie him. With regard to parenting, Bo’s character helps define the toughness of a mother or parent. Her happiness, considering her situation, seems genuine compared to what happens in Marie’s life.
“Puppy” signifies optimism of the potential growth and a better future. Bo’s mother has taken it upon herself to keep him safe from dangers. Just like the real puppy in Callie’s house, Bo seems to another ‘puppy’ that requires special care because of his condition. Callie had invited Marie into her house to buy the puppy because her husband wanted killed. The business transaction fails to go through after Marie discovers that Bo is tied on a tree out of their house and has to lap water like a puppy, something that annoys her. Ironically, while the puppy on sale was free within the house, the child of the house was tied to a tree. A real puppy is a young one of a dog who requires special attention during growth. Saunders’ book ends with Bo’s mother talking of the optimism that one day Bo would grow up to become stronger and in control of himself. She believes that by loving him the way he is, Bo will turn out better as an adult. She even dreams that the boy will one day have a wife and children. Callie’s assertion means that Bo’s condition keeps on improving with time (Thomas 57). To her, Bo’s condition today is better than yesterday. Therefore, tomorrow will be better than today for this ‘puppy.’ Marie pulls the window blinds in Callie’s house to reveal that Bo is chained on a tree within the compound.
Bo is a character who reveals the different parental approaches. Marie seems to conform to all demands of her children within the house. She approaches family dynamics on a friendly manner, an aspect that prevents her from giving proper direction to the children. When Marie and her two children arrive at Callie’s house, she accidentally sees Bo, tied to a tree. As much as Marie is angry with Callie for this act, Bo’s condition allows the reader to know of her past and parental upbringing. Marie feels she has been the best mum in the world; however, the encounter at Callie’s house reveals that her parental reactions to family dynamics result from her wrong parental upbringing. The author allows the reader to now Marie’s mother protesting against her parenting techniques. Therefore, Bo exposes Maries past pains and the effects on her present state as a mother. On the other side, Bo’s condition helps in showing her mother’s tenderness towards her family. However, the reader fails to see the tenderness as she deals with Bo’s condition. As the story progresses, her intentions become clear, attracting the love and sympathy from readers (Smith 42-44). For this reason, Callie comes out as a strong parent with faults but very decisive in order to protect family members. She goes ahead to kill the puppy to enhance peace with her husband in the house. For these reasons, Bo helps in revealing strengths, deception and flows in the different parents.
In conclusion, Bo is a depiction of true love by the parents. His condition is difficult and discouraging but the mother decides to seek medical counsel from the doctor and accepts administer strong medicine. Callie is ready to face all the challenges that may arise while caring for her son. Some of the decisions she makes include chaining her boy to a tree in order to protect him. Marie fails to understand the logic behind the chaining; however, the situation helps her look back to her own past and parenting style. Bo is character that signifies the true love that a parent has for a child or other family members irrespective of their conditions. Such love starts from the awareness that today’s conditions may not be good; however, tomorrow will be better. Callie, his mother finishes her role in the book by revealing her thoughts for the boy saying that, “Like Bo wasn’t perfect, but she loved him how he was and tried to help him get better. If they could keep him safe, maybe he’d mellow out, as he got older. If he mellowed out, maybe he could someday have a family…” (Saunders 24).
Saunders, George, Tenth of December: stories, New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks,
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Smith, Zadie, The book of other people, New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2008.
Thomas, Sheree, Dark Matter: a Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora, New
York: Grand Central Publishing, 2014.