In Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee, what does the dog that Jasmine kills symbolize?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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To a great extent, the death of the dog represents the free will with which Jasmine is able to change the course of her life.  Faced with the presence of the mad dog, death and harm seemed inevitable. Yet, Jasmine is able to show and exercise her sense of freedom and choice, in order to take a stand and do something that culturally, as a woman, she might not have been able to do.  When faced with threat and danger, Jasmine acted in self- preservation.  This becomes something that Jasmine is able to do quite a bit in the novel.  When confronted with rape and threatened by it, she kills her attacker.  When danger comes perilously close, she is able to escape.  When a sense of despair and hopelessness envelops her, she escapes out.  In the end, this becomes a trademark of Jasmine and her character.  It is seen when she has to kill the dog.  It is reflective of how she lives her life. It is also reflective of the idea that women are able to assert their own choice and autonomy in living their life.  When Jasmine's astrological chart reveals that she will live in exile and foretells of a sad life, Jasmine does not capitulate and simply surrender her will to live and the need to survive.  If so, she would not have acted against the dog as she did.  In the end, this becomes one of the primary messages of the novel.  Women do have the capacity to impact their own lives through freedom that can be used in any context.

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