Fifteen Dogs (André Alexis)

“Fifteen Dogs” by André Alexis explores the implication of power in the hands of immature Greek gods. The book begins with two gods, Apollo and Hermes, who, out of boredom, place a bet with each other. They give human intelligence to 15 dogs locked away in an animals’ clinic. Apollo bets that all the dogs will die in misery since, to him, human intelligence is nothing but a cause of misery. Hermes places a less severe bet that at least one of the dogs will die in peace.

“Fifteen Dogs” illustrates how human intelligence may not always be a good thing. The dogs, who were initially in a tight-knit pack, eventually part ways. The dogs who did not want to accept the changes that came after being given human intelligence not only ignored them, but started to harm any other dog who accepted the change. For instance, the pack attacked another dog named Majnoun because he supported the new dog language that Prince, a dog infatuated with poetry, created.

The acceptance of these changes became harmful for the dogs. Changes in culture or society today work similarly. Not everyone is willing to accept change. This resistance to change has been illustrated throughout the media in movies like X-Men and shows like The Gifted. This concept has also been the cause of true historical terrors like the holocaust or slavery.

The book also illustrates the importance of the arts in finding meaning in life. Art has always been a form of expression. In the book, Prince makes poems and it enlightens his soul. He learns to understand life and look at it to a certain depth. The idea that his art might survive allows him to die in peace. There is a comfort in knowing that a part of him will survive. Moreover, the survival of such arts through time ensure that the sufferings of the past are not forgotten—they may even serve as a lesson to avoid similar conflicts in the future. In this way, art not only remains a form of expression but also a way of learning from the past.

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