The Thief and the Dogs

by Naguib Mahfouz

Start Free Trial

What is the significance of the title "The Thief and the Dogs"?

Quick answer:

The title refers to the main character and the "dogs" that he feels are constantly chasing him throughout the novel. The title has a great deal of literal meaning as well.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The title of a novel is often of great symbolic importance, and this is especially true of this work. The title refers to the main character and the "dogs" that he feels are constantly chasing him throughout the novel. It is important to note that the title has a great deal of literal meaning as well.

The thief in the title is, of course, the main character, Said. He has recently been released from jail for stealing as the novel starts, so he is literally a thief. He is also a thief in a figurative sense, as he sets out to "steal" the lives of those he believes wronged him. 

The "dogs" in the title refer to the people Said wants vengeance on: Rauf; his former mentor, Nabawiyya; his ex-wife; and Illish, his former best friend who betrayed him by marrying his wife. The main plot of the novel revolves around Said's attempts to punish these people.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial