Thursday, September 26, 2013
Willie the Creature
In The Replacements, Stuart sees a hideous creature crawling near his feet and his first instinct is to kill it. When he arrives home he finds his wife Jenny with one of the same creatures and she insists on keeping it as a pet. Stuart’s opposition to the creature causes his wife to distance herself from him and she eventually makes him choose between living with the creature and leaving. He ultimately chooses to leave because he can’t stand the thought of living with that creature and the fact that his wife clearly chose the creature over him. Though I can’t say I’ve ever encountered a creature similar to the one Lisa Tuttle describes, I have been put in a similar situation where opposition to a pet has led to fighting and the eventual degradation of a friendship.
In some ways, I can sympathize with Stuart, but obviously I would never kill an animal. My sophomore year in college, my roommate brought home a dog after Christmas break. The dog was honestly the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t bear to look at it and what made it worse was the fact that the dog’s hair covered his eyes but you knew he was just staring at you menacingly. His name was Willie. He had the meanest personality that I’d ever seen in a dog of his kind. To add to this, he was absolutely annoying. Now, I love animals but I could not sympathize with this creature. The dog followed her everywhere. In the mornings he would scratch at my door and bark throughout the night. During the day, he would rip up the carpet, pillows, and he sometimes managed to pull the curtains down in the living room. There was nothing I could do to convince her to find a new home for the dog; she was already attached.
My roommate never gave me an ultimatum like Stuart’s wife did; “I’m sorry…I really am, but this is nonnegotiable…if you can’t accept that you’d better leave” (Oates 472). But, we were definitely facing the same issue Jenny and Stuart faced, “Either I win and I keep him or you win and I give him up…Where’s the compromise” (Oates 466). It was clear I didn’t want him in our apartment but she didn’t care. We began to fight about the dog and soon after that, we fought about virtually everything. I know the dog was the cause of my frustration but since it wasn’t going to leave I had to “win” somehow. I broke the lease and let the apartment complex know she was housing a dog without having paid the pet deposit. She was out $500 and didn’t have a roommate, but she didn’t care because she had Willie. Though what happened to Stuart is different than what happened to me, the result was the same: we both moved out and never talked to the person possessing the creature again.
Tuttle, Lisa. “Replacements.” American Gothic Tales. Ed. Joyce Carol Oates. New York: The Penguin Group. 460-474. Print.