Lob's Girl Themes
The main themes in “Lob’s Girl” are loyalty, family, and the supernatural.
- Loyalty: The unusually powerful bond between Sandy and Lob offers a compelling portrayal of undying loyalty.
- Family: The members of the Pengelly family treat one another with the utmost love and care.
- The supernatural: The character of Lob seems to exist outside the boundaries of nature in several ways.
Last Updated on September 6, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 911
“Lob’s Girl” offers a powerful portrait of loyalty. The bond between Sandy and Lob develops over the course of the story, culminating in an act of supreme sacrifice and loyalty. From their first moments together, Lob and Sandy are devoted friends. As Sandy tosses the piece of driftwood for Lob to retrieve on the day they meet, she falls in love with the energetic and friendly dog and soon feels deeply connected to him. In this initial meeting, Lob bonds with Sandy as his rightful owner and never looks at Mr. Dodsworth the same way again. Sandy is devastated when the dog, whom she feels is her own, must leave on the train, and she hears Lob’s pain as he wails when the train leaves the station.
Lob’s devout loyalty is made clear through subsequent efforts to return to Sandy. After walking four hundred miles, Lob is finally reunited with Sandy, but her parents insist that he be returned to Mr. Dodsworth. After Sandy’s father calls Lob’s rightful owner, Lob is again forced to part company with the girl he loves. However, Lob refuses to be deterred, and he again escapes from Mr. Dodsworth and makes his way back to Sandy. This time, even Mr. Dodsworth agrees that Lob is devoted to Sandy and insists on gifting Lob to Sandy’s family.
Sandy and Lob maintain a close relationship as she grows up, and on the day of the accident, Lob is by Sandy’s side and again proves his loyalty. While Sandy is critically injured in the accident, Lob is killed. As the speeding truck approached the pair, Lob’s instinct was not to flee and therefore save himself. Instead, he faithfully remained by Sandy’s side, and given his significant injuries, it can be inferred that he placed himself directly between the truck and Sandy. Indeed, the force which hit Lob was so intense that it knocked him far from where Sandy’s crumpled body was found.
Although Lob’s presence at the end of the story, after his purported death, is ambiguous, one possible reading is that the ever-loyal Lob finds a way to return in ghostly form for long enough to rouse Sandy from her coma. His whining voice outside her hospital room door reaches the depths of Sandy’s consciousness and gives her the strength to return to the world of the living. Lob’s loyalty to his faithful companion transcends the laws of the natural world and demonstrates the power of a devoted friendship.
The Pengelly family shares a close bond, and throughout the story, they exhibit intentional efforts to demonstrate their love and care for each other. This sense of care and connection is evident in the first scene, when young Sandy watches over her younger siblings, Don helps his father work on their boat, and their mother’s works to ensure the Christmas puddings are ready by late August. When Lob first walks the four hundred miles to reach Sandy, it pains Mrs. Pengelly to insist that he be returned to his rightful owner, which is evident in the way she sighs as she recognizes her daughter’s connection to the dog. When Mr. Dodsworth offers to give Lob to the family, Mr. Pengelly recognizes the added cost that Lob will add to their budget, yet he takes on this cost out of his love for his children, who adore Lob.
Finally, Sandy is involved in the accident because she dutifully follows the wishes of her mother to spend time with her lonely aunt. When she is hit, her family rallies around her at the hospital. Sandy’s grandmother brings Lob—now...
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presumably a ghost—to Sandy’s bedside, hoping that Lob’s connection with Sandy might help her recover. The way the family supports each other indicates that they will also be able to support Sandy through the tragic loss of Lob.
From the beginning of the story, Sandy and Lob have a powerful bond, one that proves supernatural in its strength. This is most evident at the end of the story, when it becomes clear that even death cannot separate Lob from his beloved Sandy when he realizes that her life is in danger. He seemingly returns from a burial at sea—perhaps in ghostly form—to insist that he be allowed to visit Sandy; indeed, he is determined to find a way inside the hospital. Although Sandy’s condition is grave and her family is increasingly concerned that she won’t recover, Lob’s presence brings Sandy back from a near-fatal coma. After fulfilling his duty, Lob disappears, leaving only watery footprints behind as evidence that he was ever there. His appearance cannot be explained by a human understanding of the natural world, indicating that Lob himself exists outside of typical natural order.
There are two other ways in which Lob’s behaviour can be seen as unnatural. First, Lob’s two four-hundred-mile journeys from Mr. Dodsworth’s house to the Pengellys’ house exhibit an astonishing degree of devotion and physical endurance. Second, dogs are considered faithful companions, and it is rare for a dog to voluntarily break its bond to an original owner and to replace that bond with a different human relationship. Lob’s instantaneous transfer of loyalty from Mr. Dodsworth to Sandy speaks to a strong connection between him and Sandy that perhaps defies logic and natural order.