What is the role of Bendicò, the dog, in The Leopard, and what does he represent?
The dog is inseparable from the Prince of Salina who compares it to the stars in one of the novel's most lyrical passages. Like them he is incapable of producing anguish in human beings.
According to a letter written by Tomasi di Lampedusa to his friend Enrico Merlo di Tagliavia on May 30th, 1957, the dog Bendicò is the key to the entire novel. When the letter was published in the year 2000, this statement puzzled most readers and Tomasi's adopted son, Gioacchino Lanza, was asked why what appears to be a minor character was hailed as the key to the novel. The answer probably lies in the closing image of the book when Concetta, the Prince's daughter, decides to throw away the embalmed dog, who like her father has been dead for several years. Bendicò is thrown out of the window and is reduced to a "heap of livid dust". Because of his close association with the Prince, the destruction of Bendicò symbolyzes the destruction of an entire social order.