Growing up, older members of my family who are native to Puerto Rico, particularly my grandparents on both of my parents’ sides, encouraged me to escape sadness and negativity by turning to religion for comfort. I became aware later in my childhood that the ideals I was taught were not true for all people, and people from different places believe in different entities and symbols that provide them with comfort the way my beliefs do. These differences are what make people unique, and the ways their beliefs affect the way they live almost dictate whether or not they will live a stressful or stress-free life.
As I was reading “Blu’s Hanging”, I found that the story was abundant with symbolism that was unfamiliar to me, particularly because of how counterintuitive it seemed. For example, many people have been taught that crossing paths with a black cat is bad luck, where as black cats play a vital role in minimizing sadness. It also became apparent that, when Hoppy Creetat and Ka-san were brought into the household, life for the family became more bearable an, at times, fun.
In addition, there are instances when the animals act as extensions of the Ogata family, while other times the animals are presented as spiritual guides that contain wisdom that will release the family from sadness, such as the dog’s tears and the colors of the cats. The animals of the family have always, in some way, affected the emotional state of each character in some way that allows them to escape from the disenchanting occurrences of their daily lives. Such apparent symbolism inspired me to research more heavily on the topic.
Questions that will encourage further clarification of my main points in my essay are:
1. What makes the presence of birds important? Do animals, other than cats and dogs, play a significant enough role to mention in conjunction with the greatest symbolic animals of the text?
2. Why is it important that a black dog can be substituted for a black cat when the latter is absent in the Ogata family’s lives? What can this signify?
3. Does their living situation affect how strongly they believe in the symbolic representation of the animals? How would their experience with animals be different if they were financially better off than they are in the story?