The Dying Animal
?The Dying Animal?
?The Dying Animal? is one of the latest novels by the American novelist Philip Roth. The main character, David Kepesh, is already known from two other novels ?The Breast? and ?The Professor of Desire?. David is a successful cultural critic on a TV program and a college lecturer. ?The Dying Animal? is a monologue of Kepesh about his life, his opinion how life should be and his relationship with young Cuban-American Consuela Castillo.
The sexual revolution in the sixties is put in the focus of David?s memoirs. There is no doubt that in David?s thoughts the sixties were the best times of his life. At these times he left his wife and searched his way. However, David Kepesh maintains that he could not find his own way ?because he was born in the forest and raised naturally? (p.65). After leaving his family he was happy because he could feel the moments of freedom and had the opportunity to live without family, responsibility and discipline. David is convinced that ordinary life in marriage, with family and children destroys the opening mind of humans. The most meaningful things to David are sexual games because in his opinion, only they give him a sense of living. His theory about living laws is: ?The other thing is based in your physical being, in the flesh is born and the flesh that dies? (p.69). David?s life is ruled by animal?s instincts.
As the result of his attitude toward his family, David Kepesh has serious problems in the relationship with his son Kenny. Kenny does not understand his father?s lifestyle. David says: ?My deficiencies are at the root of his suffering? (p. 77). David did not take part in his son?s life when Kenny was growing up. That is why Kenny cannot forgive David and accuses him of destroying his childhood.
The difficult relationship with Consuela changes David Kepesh?s life. This relationship is not an equal partnership: he is already sixty-two; she is only twenty-four. He is her teacher in Practical Criticism and pronounces her a great work of art. In David?s opinion, Consuela is not like other students because she is well-brought-up, intelligent and has her special style of clothing. At the beginning of the narrative their relationship is mainly of a sexual nature. David spends his life with affairs, in which sexual pleasure plays the most important role. He ?is determined (after that [his bad marriage]), never to live in the cage again? (p. 24).
Spite Kepesh?s will to stay independent and free, the young woman steadily is on his mind. David, ?a man of the world and a cultural authority?, gradually becomes obsessed with the young student. He knows now what jealousy, fear and uncertainty feel like.
Eight years later when Consuela becomes ill David is afraid of loving her. Under these circumstances the genesis of a man with love and anxiety for a loving person is happening. David Kepesh admits: ?Maybe now that I am nearing death, I also long secretly not to be free? (p. 106). He is very scared about this new feeling in his heart. The strong dependence on Consuela frightens the old man, and he tries to hide his feelings.
Roth, Philip. The Dying Animal. London: Vintage 2002.