In Lawrence Ferlinghettis poem, “Dog”, the dog symbolizes an ordinary man going on about his life. In the first section Lawrence establishes what the things are that the dog sees in comparison to himself. The next section deals with how the dog thinks and feels. Finally, the last section reveals what the dog does.
Mr. Ferlinghetti shows us how a normal mans life is similar to a dogs by revealing what the dog sees. He tells us, “the things he sees / are bigger than himself / and the things he sees / are his reality”, (Lines 3-6) and, ” the things he sees / are smaller than himself.”(Lines 10-11) In these lines Lawrence uses the repetition of “the things he sees” to emphasize to us that man faces major challenges and minor challenges that are all a part of our lives. Lawrence also repeats “The dog trots freely in the street” in this section and throughout the poem to tell us that we are free and can control our own destinys. We are shown, in this section, how exciting life is through the use of colourful imagery and explosive alliteration. Some examples are “Drunks in doorways”(Line7) and “Chickens in Chinatown windows”. (Line 14)
This section contrasts humans with dogs in the ways in which they think and feel. “He doesnt hate cops / he merely has no use for them / and he goes past them”. (Lines 23 -25) This tells us that if we have no use for something we look at it with indifference ignore it and go on with our lives. ” He would rather eat a tender cow / than a tough policeman”(Lines28-29) explains to us that we like to take the easy way out of things by dealing with the simple problems and turning our backs on the difficult problems. We see that a man by himself is scared of a group of men but not of one man in the lines “Hes afraid of Coit’s Tower / but hes not afraid of Congressman Doyle”. (Lines 34-35) In this section it also tells us how the government and politics are very discouraging, depressing and absurd to sad young serious men. “But he has his own free world to live in / His own flees to eat / He will not be muzzled”(Lines 41-43). This informs us that every man has his own life and things to do and he will not let other people get in his way. This is all accomplished through more alliteration like “cats and cigars”(Line21) and “Romeo Ravioli”. (Line 31) Some colorful imagery like “Congressman Doyle is just another / fire hydrant / to him” is also used.
The final section relates the way a dog dashes around to a humans complex active life. Lawrence uses alliteration and rhyme to show us the busyness and curiosity in our lives in the lines “touching and tasting everything / investigating everything”. (Lines 51-52) We are told that man sees things as they are and they have real stories to tell that are backed up with experience. (Lines 54-56) The form of lines fifty-seven through eight-four is very interesting. These lines are all over the place, which serves to display how we are like dogs, running here and there. It shows us how life keeps us moving and we never stop. “And looking / like a living question mark / into the / great gramaphone / of puzzling existence”. (Lines 75-79) In these lines we are told that man is always asking questions and trying to figure out the mystery of life. But, as the last lines tell us, lifes mystery is never solved, but it always seems like its just about to be released. (Lines 80-85) These points are all made more clear through the use of alliteration like “hollow horn”(Line80) and the repetition of the word real in lines fifty-four through fifty-seven.
In this poem Lawrence Ferlinghetti explores a normal mans life by making the dog symbolize him. Ferlinghetti uses alliteration and repetition to help create the effect of what the dog does and how he feels and thinks. He also uses colorful imagery to explore what the symbolic dog sees. These writing devices that Lawrence used made “Dog” interesting and easy to understand.