Mboudjak Shares Every Mans Struggle

When discussing Dog Days, the obvious question is why it is narrated by a dog? In class we discussed that an advantage of having a dog narrate is that the story can be told from an outside perspective without human bias or interpretation. However I argue that the story of Mboudjak very closely represents and aligns with the story of many people living in Cameroon at the time of this economic crisis.

Mboudjak starts off the story by explaining how he used hate being called dog but he quickly learned his place and what role he had to play to survive. He explained the word dog bothered him by saying it showed “the arrogance with which men name the world, assigning a place to each thing, and ordering them to be silent. Each and every time it was used to refer to me, the word let me know I was an object in the human universe, that I had stopped being what I really was, and that I had no right to speak” (7). I don’t think this just applies to being labeled a dog. Every person is labeled and categorized in society and is expected to behave within the expectations set for them. If a person disagrees with the expectations society has for them, they are forced to remain silent and go along with the social structures in place. Mboudjak explains that being labeled a dog and categorized forced him to not be himself anymore which reflects the social conformation that the people in the novel face.

Mboudjak explains that he quickly learned how to survive in this world. He had to play his part and “answer to his name”(8). This lesson came at the veterinarians office when he was going to get a shot since they thought he had rabies because of his strange and bad behavior. Seeing this immediate threat of violence, Mboudjak quickly adjusted his behavior to conform to the expectations the human world had for him thus avoiding the punishment of the needle. Even more so, his life was better off after he conformed because he even got canned food from the store.

Once the economy starts to decline, this all changes. Getting laid off or not getting a regular salary were common occurrences and many people’s lifestyles and outlook on life were drastically altered. Mboudjak was used as a scapegoat for the troubles of his master as many civilians were used and made the victims for the faults of the government and those in power above them. The scenes of Mboudjak struggling are very symbolistic of what people were going through at the time. For example his helplessness when he is hanging from the tree or when he can’t seem to fit in with either the poor street dogs or the wealthy dogs.

People in Cameroon had conformed to their roles in society, played their part and did not protest it. When the economic crisis hit, they were quickly forced into new roles in which they no longer could maintain their previous lifestyle and yet were still considered middle class citizens. Being unable to help themselves yet not pitied they found themselves in a state of helplessness and desperation which is clearly demonstrated through the events in Mboudjak’s life.


Posted on October 30, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I agree with you that society somewhat “compels” us to conform with our surroundings. I think it’s also reflected in the relationship between the Cameroonian government with its people. Before this crisis happens, Cameroon was prosperous. However, when the government takes their power for granted, and causes major crisis in the country, all trust shifts to suspicion. Before the crisis takes place, these people might think that the government is like the God who will give them a lifetime prosperity. However, as the really does not turn out what the Cameroonians have thought, they are forced to conform with the new situation – unemployment, political riots, and eventually major crisis that makes even the simplest thing in their daily lives can spark huge riots that threatens the the unity.

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