Where was the mastiff born in The Old Man Slave and the Mastiff?

The mastiff in the novel was likely born in Europe, though characters indicate that the dog also had demonic origins.

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To determine where the mastiff was born, look at part 2 in Patrick Chamoiseau’s novel The Old Man Slave and the Mastiff(sometimes the title is translated as The Old Slave and the Mastiff or Slave Old Man ). In this section, the narrator delves into the origins of...

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To determine where the mastiff was born, look at part 2 in Patrick Chamoiseau’s novel The Old Man Slave and the Mastiff (sometimes the title is translated as The Old Slave and the Mastiff or Slave Old Man). In this section, the narrator delves into the origins of the demonic dog. After the narrator describes the dog’s monstrous traits and its haunting voyage to the Martinique plantation, the narrator addresses where it came from.

In Linda Coverdale’s translation of the novel, the dog “came from who-knew-what Gehenna in Europe.” Gehenna is not in Europe (at least not literally). Gehenna, in the context of the New Testament and Judaism, means hell. When the narrator says that the mastiff came from some “Gehenna in Europe,” it’s reasonable to claim that the narrator is saying that the mastiff was born in a European hellhole.

The notion that the dog was born somewhere in Europe is reinforced in the following paragraph when it's stated that the Master had purchased the dog without “haggling.” According to the narrator, the Master was probably the one who brought the dog “straight from Europe.”

Of course, coming directly from Europe is not the same as being born in Europe. However, it’s sensible to conclude that, since the dog came from Europe, it was likely born in Europe. If one wanted to retain the “Gehenna” element of the dog’s origin, one could be specific and say that dog was born in a hellish part of Europe.

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