The Loss of Humanity
“Each time I realize that an empty stomach is man’s master. And I’ll realize the extent to which misery eats up man’s humanity” (133).
In class we have discussed the ways in banal and everyday violence can affect humanity. In Patrice Nganang’s Dog Days, the story of an economically suffering Cameroon is described by a dog whose master has recently lost everything. With the economic deficit affecting everyone throughout the country, the banal violence begins to appear without mercy. The often identifies the ways in which men lose sight of humanity when faced with constant everyday violence. In the passage above, the author positions poverty and extreme hunger as and example of man separating one’s self from humanity. The dog describes how when people are face with hunger, they subsequently as well as theoretically become enslaved by the lack of food. He identifies that this hunger is one that removes man from humanity. The dog ultimately insinuates that when faced with starvation and poverty people ultimately are positioned as dogs. The overarching theme throughout the novel of the dog narrating the story of the humans around him allows the reader to explore the view of a being who is placed at a subservient level to humans. When the economic crisis arises the humans lose the agency that they once possessed that allowed them to exert control over their life. When hungry however, their agency no longer exists along with their humanity. Nganang identifies that humanity is connected to the ability for one to possess power. Once the power is no longer accessible, one no longer has the agency to exercise power over one’s daily life.When hungry however, their agency no longer exists along with their humanity. Nganang identifies that humanity is connected to the ability for one to possess power. Once the power is no longer accessible, one no longer has the agency to exercise power over one’s daily life. Nganang seems to be critiquing the aspects of humanity through his illustration of the dog as the seemingly only being who never exerts malicious intent. The identification of one losing their humanity as them being forced to the level of the dog is accurate but it does not touch up the difference between the intentions of a dog and the intentions of a man without humanity. From this passage one can conclude that man finds misery in poverty and a lack of humanity, while the dog is able to remain pure from malcontent even when faced with an absence of agency.