Rum Diary Question #14 ~ Dogs

by Hunter S. Thompson

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Rum Diary Question #14 ~ Dogs

Unread postby Liz » Sun May 02, 2010 3:02 pm

Image
What do you make of all of the references to dogs, real and figurative?

Pg. 9:
Suddenly the old man jumped up and tried to scramble over me like a dog.

Pg. 54: I looked through a crack in the shutter and saw about fifteen tiny Puerto Ricans, dancing on the sidewalk and tormenting a three-legged dog. I cursed them viciously and hurried up to Al’s for breakfast.

Pg. 67: Once he was arrested on Sixth Avenue, he said, for pissing on a fireplug like a dog.

Pg. 75: Once we passed a pack of naked children stoning a dog beside the road. Sala stopped and took several pictures.

Pg. 172: I went down the back stairs and slipped into my car like a fugitive. Somewhere in Santurce I ran over a dog, but I kept going. When I got to the apartment Chenault was still asleep.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

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Re: Rum Diary Question #14 ~ Dogs

Unread postby nebraska » Sun May 02, 2010 3:22 pm

At the time this book was written, the dogs might have been a very good picture for readers to relate to. In those days dogs had not risen to the status of "companion animals". Many people were rural and considered a dog to be part of the farm equipment (running off predators, herding, etc) .The visuals might not have been quite so shocking :-/ and would have given a good image of what was happening.

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Re: Rum Diary Question #14 ~ Dogs

Unread postby deppaura » Sun May 02, 2010 8:02 pm

I think it is also a real condition of poverty. Dogs running amok, not really cared for. Easily abused.

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Re: Rum Diary Question #14 ~ Dogs

Unread postby Liz » Sun May 02, 2010 8:29 pm

There is no excuse for such behavior in my book. But it could be that it was just one more way for Hunter to paint a true picture of the times in P.R. I was bothered by Sala's callousness in photographing the scene but making no attempt to stop it, and Kemp's casual mention of running over a dog and not stopping. Seemed he was in a numbed state of mind at the time.
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Re: Rum Diary Question #14 ~ Dogs

Unread postby nebraska » Sun May 02, 2010 9:03 pm

Liz wrote:There is no excuse for such behavior in my book. But it could be that it was just one more way for Hunter to paint a true picture of the times in P.R. I was bothered by Sala's callousness in photographing the scene but making no attempt to stop it, and Kemp's casual mention of running over a dog and not stopping. Seemed he was in a numbed state of mind at the time.




Maybe the callousness regarding the dogs explains the attitude toward Chenault. You are right that the dog scenes showed what conditions were like at the time in P.R., but I think there was a different attitude toward animals everywhere and Hunter's readers would have responded differently from readers of today.

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Re: Rum Diary Question #14 ~ Dogs

Unread postby Buster » Sun May 02, 2010 9:58 pm

a pack of naked children stoning a dog


...a pack of dogs tormenting a cat, a pair of cats tormenting a rat...The weak always pick on those weaker than themselves.

Sala's photography reveals the seamier side of journalism: documenting, observing, but not taking action. Maybe that partially explains why all the characters were so violent and callous toward each other.

I think Hunter himself was an exception. Gonzo journalism involved immersion in the situations he was reporting on - he became part of the story, as it were.

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Re: Rum Diary Question #14 ~ Dogs

Unread postby gemini » Sun May 02, 2010 11:52 pm

Sorry but as an animal lover I was taken back more than most it seems.
Everytime Kemp made a dog comment and showed that he could not care less about their misery, I started disliking him a bit more. For the story, I can see that Hunter may have shown the misery of the dogs to portray the sad state of the place, but I couldn't follow why he had to make Kemp such an indifferent jerk. Then when I read about Johnny taking several mistreated dogs home with him on the plane after filming TRD, I was thrilled.
I can understand Nebraska trying to forgive the times but TRD setting was the late 50's. I was born before that and always had dogs and so did my parents before me. I understand your point that they are more acceptable these days but there have always been animal lovers. I do admit that the poorer the person's life style the less they feel for the misery around them.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.

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Re: Rum Diary Question #14 ~ Dogs

Unread postby ladylinn » Mon May 03, 2010 2:35 pm

I didn't understand why Hunter kept commenting about dogs. Perhaps he was trying to illustrate the severe poverty of the island. Were they enemies of the poor people in the search for food..... I don't know - felt uncomfortable with the comments.

Buster said it best with bringing out how the weak torments the weaker.

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Re: Rum Diary Question #14 ~ Dogs

Unread postby deppaura » Mon May 03, 2010 4:50 pm

Here in America and I suppose in other places with discretionary money, we can care for our pets. We almost revere them, sometimes, I think, a bit out of perspective. O.K., don't jump on me. I appreciate and value animals. But, this was Puerto Rico in impoverished conditions. The dog in those situations certainly becomes the "underdog" undervalued and picked upon.

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Re: Rum Diary Question #14 ~ Dogs

Unread postby nebraska » Mon May 03, 2010 10:26 pm

deppaura wrote:Here in America and I suppose in other places with discretionary money, we can care for our pets. We almost revere them, sometimes, I think, a bit out of perspective. O.K., don't jump on me. I appreciate and value animals. But, this was Puerto Rico in impoverished conditions. The dog in those situations certainly becomes the "underdog" undervalued and picked upon.


This book was the 50s. Very different times. My lifetime has spanned being a child on a rural Midwest farm in the 50s to being a veterinary clinic employee post 2000. Not even close!

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Re: Rum Diary Question #14 ~ Dogs

Unread postby Liz » Mon May 03, 2010 11:03 pm

nebraska wrote:
deppaura wrote:Here in America and I suppose in other places with discretionary money, we can care for our pets. We almost revere them, sometimes, I think, a bit out of perspective. O.K., don't jump on me. I appreciate and value animals. But, this was Puerto Rico in impoverished conditions. The dog in those situations certainly becomes the "underdog" undervalued and picked upon.


This book was the 50s. Very different times. My lifetime has spanned being a child on a rural Midwest farm in the 50s to being a veterinary clinic employee post 2000. Not even close!

I wonder if it was different on a farm, though. I have had friends who have had the farm experience and talk about how the dog was not valued at all. One particular friend I'm thinking of was born in 1960. Or could it be regional? My parents and my grandmother were very much into animals, and this dates back to before the 60s. It could be that I just grew up in a family who valued animals almost more than humans. So I'm sure I view things differently.
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Re: Rum Diary Question #14 ~ Dogs

Unread postby gemini » Tue May 04, 2010 12:18 am

As much as I dislike the truth of this, even today in the US animals are terribly abused. I delivered mail and recall many times stopping to yell at children abusing small animals with no supervision around. Usually they grab the animal and run and continue where they left off. Sadly it was in poorer areas and the children didn't look well cared for either. They seemed to be raising themselves. Just about like what Kemp was describing in Puerto Rico. Sometimes thinks don't change, they just repeat.

Nebraska and Liz, I think you are right about farm areas. My mother was raised on a farm and animals were for killing and eating. It was my father who taught her they could also be pets.
Many years back after a parrot show, my mother was astounded at how intelligent the birds were, and told me she had never considered it possible all the years she killed chickens on the farm for dinner.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers



Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.


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