Fox 8 by George Saunders
Fox8 lives with the other foxes, but he’s different from the rest. He’s learned Human. He’s watched humans through their window and learned their words, both in speech and reading. He can’t read everything, but he knows enough to impress the other foxes.
He reads about something called Fox Commons and decides to go and see what it is. There he learns from a dog left in a car that this is Parking. The thing over there, is a shopping mall. Fox8 has grand plans of going inside and speaking to the humans in their own human speech about the mall. As a result of the shopping center, there is a less food and less water for the foxes to eat and drink.
Confusion soon ensues. Some cruel humans hurt another fox and Fox8 gets separated from them all. He wanders for days when he finally finds more foxes, who name themselves differently. They find it hard to believe about learning Human and visiting the mall. Fox8 is able to make himself a place with a new group of foxes, but he remembers his experiences with the other foxes.
What I liked
This story was so interesting. I know I probably shouldn’t say “interesting” so much. I’ve recently started to watch Captain Fantastic, a Viggo Mortensen movie where he raises six kids out in the woods, and in the movie “interesting” is a non-word because it simply doesn’t say enough about the thing you’re talking about. I should probably take that sentiment to heart.
I enjoyed this book because it was from a point of view we don’t usually get. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book from a fox’s point of view, except maybe some small children’s book back when I was a child. It’s an ultimate experiment of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, or paws. How does humanity affect wild life? What does wildlife think about human things? Of course we can never know for sure until someone finally invents thought translators for animals, which someone should really get busy on, but I’m afraid if it ever does come about, we’re going to feel really awful about what the animals have to say.
Fox8 manages to get on some level with the humans and he thinks that can bridge a gap between the two species, but it can’t, because humanity has both its good side and its bad side.
What I didn’t like
There is a scene in this story where humans attack a fox. That’s cruel. Cruelty to animals is uncalled for. Yes, you can eat animals. You raise them, you kill them in a manner that doesn’t result in a lot of suffering, and then you eat them. What you do not do is torture animals you have no intention of eating. In fact, you don’t torture animals at all. Cruelty to animals is such a sad thing. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. What’s that saying–something like, “You can tell if a person is a good person by how he treats those below him, not above him”? It’s something like that. In our natural order of things, humans are above animals, that’s why we get to call ourselves anything different from animals; this does not mean that we get to treat animals as if they have no feelings or their lives don’t matter. I would never say a dog’s life is worth a human’s life, but you certainly shouldn’t treat a dog badly simply because you’re also not a dog.
This makes you think about how animals might feel about us.
Do you ever try to put yourself in an animal’s place?
How much thought do you think we should give to encroaching into the wild?