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The narrator in Prose’s “Talking Dog” is an adult woman who reflects back to her life as an adolescent. The narrator is unreliable due to her conflicting emotions towards her sister and her sister’s boyfriend, Jimmy. Throughout the story, the narrator battles with her immense love and jealousy she feels towards her sister. She wishes she were more like her sister, not only because she is dating Jimmy, whom the narrator has a crush on, but because she admires the way her sister seems to get everything she wants. The narrator is a character who is somewhat distant in regards to all of the other characters in the story. Her detachment from her family, Jimmy, and Greg, enables her to clearly examine the relationships between each of the characters. She is also able to reveal to the reader how she has been affected by each character in the story. “When my sister went back to Greg, Mother had gone back to him, too. But that day, in the funeral car, she was talking to me.” (510) The narrator’s point of view allows the reader to see the confusion and anguish each character experiences as certain relationships are strained and lost.

The story focuses on the narrator’s relationship with each of the characters in the story, and how her relationship with them changes over time. “Mother and I had lived alone in the house– as we’d had, really, for some time. My father and sister had left so gradually that the door hardly swung shut behind them.” (508) The father’s death and the fraudulent death of Jimmy affects each character in the story differently, which changes each character’s relationship to each other . The narrator’s sister loses her sense of adventure and settles down with Greg, a less than interesting man who “talked about her like some distant mutual friend.” (507) After the death of the narrator’s sister, her mother distances herself from the narrator and becomes closer to Greg, possibly because she feels a connection to her daughter through Greg’s presence.

Prose places great importance on the power of letting go, especially with relationships. This theme becomes evident when the narrator’s sister takes her iguana, Reynaldo, (whom she has become extremely close with since the death of Jimmy) out for a drive, and returns without him. The narrator feels as though her sister’s riddance of the iguana is her way of letting go of her past relationship with Jimmy. “And then for the first time I understood that Jimmy was really dead.” (508) The reader can also interpret the sister’s act of getting rid of the iguana as her way of accepting Jimmy’s “death.” The sister’s discarding of the iguana is a metaphor for the way in which she rids herself of her connection to Jimmy. She doesn’t want the thought of Jimmy to linger in her mind while she is with Greg.

The narrator is extremely hurt when her sister leaves Jimmy after they have finally been reunited. She doesn’t understand how or why her sister is able to leave him so easily. After the death of the narrator’s sister, the narrator is also perplexed when Jimmy reveals that he is still in love with her sister, and may always feel a deep sense of love for her. She “wanted to say she’d lied to us all… as if love were about the truth, as if he would love her less–and not more–for pretending to talk to a dog.” (510)

At the end of the story, the narrator understands that nothing can change Jimmy’s feelings for her sister, even if he knows that she has lied to everyone. This reflects the narrator’s own feelings for her sister; no matter how difficult it was to understand her sister, she will always have a deep respect and love for her.


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