In Tom Godwin's short story "The Cold Equations," what is the girl compared to that reinforces the idea she is harmless and unaware of the serious consequences of her actions?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the short story "The Cold Equations," author Tom Godwin draws the very sad and effective comparison between Marilyn, the teenage girl stowaway, and a puppy to describe her guilty face as she humbly followed Barton's orders to sit down as he gave the situation careful consideration:

She obeyed, his silence making the smile fade into the meek and guilty expression of a pup that has been caught in mischief and knows it must be punished.

The image of the puppy in Godwin's comparison helps capture Marilyn's innocence while also making the reader feel sad for her. The image captures her innocence because puppies are very innocent creatures; they are only guilty of wrongdoing due to the rules we enforce upon them, just as a law has been enforced upon Marilyn.

The image of the puppy also helps capture Marilyn's youthful naivete since puppies are equally young and naive of the evils in the world. Since she is naive, Marilyn has no idea what consequences she'll suffer for her poor decision to stow away. Coupled with Godwin's description of Marilyn being petite, curly-haired, blue-eyed and smiling, Godwin's comparison containing the image of a puppy very effectively breaks the reader's heart.