White Biting Dog Play

Question

Read Judith Thompson’s White Biting Dog.Here are the questions to answer about the play.

  1. What is your initial reaction to the relationship between Cape and Glidden?
  2. Does Cape’s mental state seem ‘stable’ at this point in the play? Did he really have a breakdown? Explain.
  3. How is Pony’s trance experience an example of “magic” realism”?
  4. Describe what you know about Cape and Lomia’s relationship at the end of Act One.
  5. Why does Cape lie to Glidden? Who benefits from this deception?
  6. Cape says things to Pony that are mean, aggressive and hurtful. What is her reaction to the way Cape speaks to her, and what does this tell you about her character?
  7. What does Cape insist that he and Lomia have in common? What is her reaction to this?
  8. From either Act, provide an example of a remark that is discriminatory to homosexuals, an example of a remark that is discriminatory to one or more race, and a remark that is discriminatory towards women. What purpose do these serve in this play?
  9. When Glidden starts talking about Australia, is it an escape from his reality, or something else? Explain.
  10. The blood in the fridge, the dogs in the freezer and even the moss in Glidden’s bed are examples of Thompson’s magic realism. Explain the effect that these all have on the play and the audience.
  11. Did Pony and Glidden both sacrifice themselves? Explain.
  12. Describe each of the characters
  13. How is the theme of “choice” expressed throughout this play? How does Thompson use the script, characterization and stagecraft in order to emphasize this theme throughout?
  14. Describe how the setting for both Acts (using the various scene locations) is significant to the play.
  15. Describe each character’s relationship to the main theme of the play.
  16. How are father-son and father-daughter relationships portrayed in this play? Provide specific examples.
  17. Describe how tension is created for the audience. Use at least one specific example in which tension is meant to be experienced, and explain how Thompson achieves this.
  18. Are all tensions resolved at the end of this play? Explain.

Sample paper

White Biting Dog Play

Question 1

Cape and Glidden seem to have a strong positive relationship. Cape lives with his father, Glidden, and is determined to save him from the unknown disease he is suffering from. This relationship indicates a close-knit family.

Question 2

Although Cape’s mental state seems unstable, he is perfectly normal. However, he is having a nervous breakdown following his recent divorce. This can be supported by the fact that he nearly jumps off the bridge before a white dog appears and talks to him.

Question 3

Pony’s trance experience is a good example of “magic realism.” The author combines the elements of a realistic narrative with fantasy or surreal dream elements. At one moment, Pony is singing and can be said to be normal while at the next moment, she makes a connection with Cape and they both fall into a state of trance.

Question 4

Cape dislikes Lomia for leaving his father. He is also angry at Lomia because she was unfaithful to his father on numerous occasions.

Question 5

Cape lies to Glidden that indeed Lomia has had a change of feelings towards him. Lomia and Pascal benefits from this deception – both are offered a place to sleep and also gives Lomia a cheque.

Question 6

Cape tells Pony that he is incapable of reciprocating her love. After hearing these words, Pony is devastated. To make things worse, she feels she is possessed by evil after she opened up to Cape. Pony’s character shows a vulnerable woman. She falls in love easily and Cape takes advantage of this.

Question 7

Cape and Lomia lack an inner life. They are like impenetrable shields that do not allow anything to pass through. Lomia does not accept Glidden back to her life. Her reaction is negative in that she only pretends to like Glidden.

Question 8

Discriminatory remark to homosexuals: After Pony finds Cape and Pascal in bed, she says to herself: “You are my dog, my doggie dog.” Remark that is discriminatory towards women: Pascal says to Lomia: “YOU MADE ME CRUEL…”Squeeze me harder…, pretend you hate me, that I’m a dirty slut” (39). These remarks helps to make the play more realistic.

Related paper: Mary Gaitskill’s The Girl on the Plane

Question 9

When he talks about Australia, it is a kind of escape from reality. Glidden is fantasizing about how fantastic his life may become if turned around.

Question 10

Magic realism involves alteration of the common reality. In the play, magical realism makes the perceptions of a particular character more marvelous. Magic realism causes readers to be torn between two opposing viewpoints about reality.

Question 11

Both Pony and Glidden sacrificed themselves. Pony sacrifices herself so that Cape can have Pascal who he is determined to get so as to break the bonds between him and his mother. Glidden kills himself after he realizes that Lomia is not in love with him. He sacrifices himself so that Cape can be happy.

Question 12

Cape is melancholic character about to commit suicide. He meets Pony, a psychic and innocent girl whom he seems to have fallen in love with. Lomia is portrayed as uncaring, having abandoned Glidden. Glidden is on his deathbed and seems confused. Pascal is portrayed as disloyal and dishonest. After sometime, he falls to Cape’s charms and abandons Lomia. The dog is portrayed as the savior.

Question 13

The theme of choice is expressed by the various characters’ freedom to choose their final destiny. Glidden is destined to die, while Pony makes the choice to take her life. Lomia chooses Pascal over Glidden. When Glidden and Pony die, Cape and Lomia are affected in different ways. Both choose who they will mourn. This represents stagecraft.                                                                                                                         

Question 14

The use of different scene locations helps Thompson to bring out a number of themes. The house is foreboding of death which haunts Glidden and Pony. The sidewalk indicates how outside forces come and destroy or change the lives of those in the house. The different scenes are also important in helping the play seem realistic to the audience.

Question 15

The main theme in the play is salvation, which entails saving others and saving oneself. The dog saves Cape from committing suicide, and Cape must now save his ailing father. Pony is unable to save herself from a possessive evil that torments her. Lomia and Pascal must guard their love but in the end they are unable to do so, as Pascal ends up sleeping with Cape.

Question 16

Father-son and father-daughter relationships are portrayed as close knit relationships. For example, Cape is determined to set aside his hate towards Lomia and ensure that his father is finally happy by getting back with Lomia. He sleeps with Pascal to ensure that his affair with Lomia ends. After Pony kills herself, she explains to her Dad why she chose to end her life. She claims to have been “invaded”, indicating a close relationship between the two.

Question 17

Tension is created in different ways. For example, the Thomson employs monologue to create tension among the audience. Monologue is employed in the beginning of the play cause tension. Drumming is also used to create a tense atmosphere. In Act One, Cape is about to commit suicide. A “soundtrack” is used to reflect the tense moments as he is just about to jump to his death.

Question 18

Tensions are not resolved at the end of the play. Pony and Glidden face their untimely death. Lomia is left clutching Glidden’s body, and so is Cape clutching to Pony’s body. Cape’s efforts to save his father has failed.  In addition, Pascal left Lomia following a confrontation. Cape and Lomia are left devastated following the deaths. The tensions are thus not resolved, but comes to an end following the deaths of Pony and Glidden.

Work Cited

Thompson, Judith. White Biting Dog & Other Plays. , 2014. Print.

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