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Fenika
10-23-2009, 07:04 AM
Really? It blows my mind every time I see this. Animals are mortal. They die, through loyalty and sacrifice or otherwise.

I really would like to know more of the rationale behind this choice.

charlotte49ers
10-23-2009, 07:17 AM
I will read them, but something about how they can't verbalize anything and then they die...I dunno! It's just sad!

maxmordon
10-23-2009, 07:33 AM
I blame Disney.

Snowstorm
10-23-2009, 07:35 AM
The same reason as when a favorite human character dies and the writer projects such poignancy that it rips my heart out: too sad. Heart-rending emotion, whether on the page or on the screen, affects me for days. Life's too short.

Polenth
10-23-2009, 07:36 AM
I don't object to them dying. I don't like it as an emotional shorthand though. For example, when a bad person kills a puppy, as a lazy way of showing they're a bad person.

(I also don't like the opposite of an otherwise terrible person being shown as 'a nice person really' because they're kind to kittens.)

Libbie
10-23-2009, 07:48 AM
I read books that deal with animal death. I won't read them if the animal death serves no purpose other than to shock. Just like I won't read any other book where death doesn't do much for the plot and is only there to titillate.

Nivarion
10-23-2009, 07:49 AM
I don't object to them dying. I don't like it as an emotional shorthand though. For example, when a bad person kills a puppy, as a lazy way of showing they're a bad person.

(I also don't like the opposite of an otherwise terrible person being shown as 'a nice person really' because they're kind to kittens.)

I know. It is a cheap trick when about the only villainous act that you get to see him do is kick the dog.

Its not like its even something that is that bad. Now killing a small child, That'll let the reader know this guy is evil.


And to the OP. I actually don't mind when the animal companion dies. I've lost a lot of pets too, and it sucks. But its also a reminder to our mortality.

katiemac
10-23-2009, 07:54 AM
I've knowingly and unknowingly read books where animals die. If the book is about the animal, like a certain memoir, then I especially won't complain.

But gruesome animal deaths in fiction stick with me and bother me more than human deaths, I don't really know why. I won't necessarily stop reading the book, but I also won't pick something up that promises lots of puppy torture. That's just no fun.

Like Polenth says, it can be a cliched trademark of an evil person (yes, I know this is a sign of behavior in real life), but like anything it's got to be done well.

If it has a real, significant and solid purpose then I won't begrudge the author.

Vespertilion
10-23-2009, 07:57 AM
"Rationale" implies that I've thought about it and made a conscious decision to get more upset when an animal dies in a story than when human character does, but I can't say that's how it works for me. I can't tell you why I can watch a "tearjerker" movie where a human dies and not bawl my eyes out, but when an animal (or monster) dies, it just hits deeper. I also cry more for animation than live-action, which is probably even weirder.

Myabe it's because animals as characters are boiled down to their essence--they are what they are, and it's a sort of purity. The same with monsters--often they can't help what they are, or are doomed from the beginning.

I guess there's a sort of distance with the human protagonist that is missing with an animal. The human can often help themselves, their death is a choice, or at least inevitable--the animal is always helpless in the end, no matter how fierce, loyal, or sweet.

katiemac
10-23-2009, 08:20 AM
Myabe it's because animals as characters are boiled down to their essence--they are what they are, and it's a sort of purity. The same with monsters--often they can't help what they are, or are doomed from the beginning.

This is what I was thinking, as well. If a person dies in fiction, it's the character. You might be upset or you might not. But if an animal dies, you can usually say it's a "placeholder" for any animal, as it wasn't really a character. Of course, you have animals who are characters in of themselves--like Marley of Marley and Me--in which case it can be just as sad, if not more so.

Wayne K
10-23-2009, 08:23 AM
I don't like when animals die in books because I'm not dumbed down to it like I am humans dying. Murder of humans is glamorized in movies and TV, not at all with animas. I never thought about that till you asked the question. I read for enjoyment, and I can skip over a human death for a good story. I honestly can't wth books.

maestrowork
10-23-2009, 08:25 AM
It's rather odd that some people do have a lot of emotions on animal's death in fiction, meanwhile characters can die right and left and that's okay.

BTW, my WIP opens with an animal's death -- it's a hunting scene. So be warned. :)

kct webber
10-23-2009, 09:20 AM
I can't say I've ever been more effected by an animal's death than by a human's. It's all about how it's written, really. I certainly won't refuse to read a book because animals die. Shit, animals die in a few of my stories.

The Lonely One
10-23-2009, 10:47 AM
Really? It blows my mind every time I see this. Animals are mortal. They die, through loyalty and sacrifice or otherwise.

I really would like to know more of the rationale behind this choice.

Honestly I think it's a matter of sensibilities.

I hate sports fiction (there are exceptions) despite liking sports in real life.

I accept animal deaths in fiction despite not particularly liking them in real life. Same as human deaths. It's also a lot (and this has all been rehashed before, just so you know--puppy slashing seems to come up over and over like frickin adverbs...) to do with how a person sees an animal philosophically and the death itself really plays on that with anyone.

Like if a puppy gets killed in a gruesome way, we're all going to react with different sensibilities.

I, for instance, believe humans are a breed of animal. We are equals (to me) and we all end up in the same dirt one day, so joke's on you guys who have a superiority complex. Ha-ha. You're gonna die.

But I digress... I think my reaction plays off that belief. I would expect or want characters to do what they can to protect innocent animals, perhaps at the risk of their lives, because that's what I would do. My dog and cat are family members. Others think animals don't have souls and humans do (which I would tell God--bad move. We're fucking idiots), so that might play a part.

Or any variation on the hierarchy or if animals are meant for food, etc.

If it's torture porn it will come across as torture porn, period, but how much we can handle will differ from reader to reader.

Am I wrong? Probably. Leave me alone. It's late. :)

The Lonely One
10-23-2009, 10:51 AM
It's rather odd that some people do have a lot of emotions on animal's death in fiction, meanwhile characters can die right and left and that's okay.

BTW, my WIP opens with an animal's death -- it's a hunting scene. So be warned. :)

Hey hunting scenes are a great dynamic. There's always a lot going on in the ambiance. For some reason hunting in fiction always makes me think of that Jack London story.

Eldritch
10-23-2009, 04:40 PM
I blame Disney.

LOL, so do I. Seriously. Bambi, Old Yeller, those movies broke my little heart.

DeleyanLee
10-23-2009, 04:54 PM
It depends on if they're a character or not, whether or not it bothers me.

Say with Ray's opening, whatever animal is being hunted isn't a character to me, so it makes no nevermind to me if they get killed.

If the animal is a character, has a presence and a personality, then their death will hurt as much as if a favored human character dies--but it can be worse if that death is a sacrifice or not. Animals are sentient, but they're no more intelligent than children. It's not a matter of purity to me, it's the fact that I don't believe they can make a thought-out decision whether or not to sacrifice themselves or not. I don't believe that a healthy dog, for instance, can conceptualize that throwing himself in the way of that bus could get them killed because, I believe, healthy animals don't think about their own death the way we humans can. I just don't see that animals can make those choices that I take for granted as a person.

Thus, when an author has the animal doing something fatal that, for a human, would be heroic, I find it out of character for a real life animal, thus making it a cheap and obvious emotional-button pushing authorial device. Ruins the story for me on so many emotional levels that I refuse to knowingly do it.

All this doesn't apply if, for whatever reason, it's proven that the animal IS capable of making human-like decisions (Dean Koontz's Watchers comes to mind).

But that's why I won't read stories where an animal or child gets sacrificed heroically--they couldn't've made the decision, so it's a fake heroism.

CaroGirl
10-23-2009, 04:58 PM
I read the stories I'm interested in reading. If an animal dies as part of the story, an animal dies. I'll decide after I read it whether I thought it was necessary to the story or gratuitous.

How do you know before you read a story that an animal will die in it?

Roger J Carlson
10-23-2009, 05:14 PM
Human deaths, whether in fiction or real life, bother me much more than animal deaths.

One thing that has always puzzled me about people bothered by animal deaths is -- why are there different levels of distress for different animals? People are bothered by the deaths of kittens and puppies, but generally not by the death of fish or reptiles. What makes cute mammals intrinsically more valuable than fish or reptiles?

DeleyanLee
10-23-2009, 05:27 PM
How do you know before you read a story that an animal will die in it?

Word of mouth or reviews, generally. The vast majority of my fiction reading comes from recommendations from friends.

CaroGirl
10-23-2009, 05:31 PM
Human deaths, whether in fiction or real life, bother me much more than animal deaths.

One thing that has always puzzled me about people bothered by animal deaths is -- why are there different levels of distress for different animals? People are bothered by the deaths of kittens and puppies, but generally not by the death of fish or reptiles. What makes cute mammals intrinsically more valuable than fish or reptiles?
The death of a companion animal, one that appears to "love" its owners and has a relationship with them, feels like more of a loss than the death of a random toad that got smucked while ambling across a busy highway. It's a matter of perspective, I suppose.

I don't feel animal death more keenly than human death, but I do understand that the intrinsic value of certain animals to certain people varies depending on the animal and its relationship to the human. Only makes sense really.

Read Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows and then come back.

CaroGirl
10-23-2009, 05:33 PM
Word of mouth or reviews, generally. The vast majority of my fiction reading comes from recommendations from friends.
So, when you read reviews or someone hands you a book to read, do you specifically think to ask, "Do any animals die in this?" and then reject it if the answer is yes? I'm not judging, I just think that's an interesting criterion for selecting novels to read.

Roger J Carlson
10-23-2009, 05:36 PM
So it's not really the death of the animal, per se, that bothers people, but the human attachment to them?

DeleyanLee
10-23-2009, 05:44 PM
So, when you read reviews or someone hands you a book to read, do you specifically think to ask, "Do any animals die in this?" and then reject it if the answer is yes? I'm not judging, I just think that's an interesting criterion for selecting novels to read.

It can affect the decision, yeah. It also depends on what friend is doing the recommending and knowing their preferences for such things. Many of my friends are far more vehement against animal/kid deaths than I am, so I take that kind of feedback as part of their overall judgment of the book. I have a friend who will wallbang the book and blacklist the author if ANY animal or child dies in the pages. I'm not that extreme in my reaction.

Lyra Jean
10-23-2009, 05:58 PM
My grandmother was very affected by animal death. She couldn't even watch nature shows where lions are hunting for food because it would upset her. She could never really explain it.

I think it does have a lot to do with the human attachment to the said animal. I was very attached to my fish and even though I wanted to switch my tank over to different fish that were easier to take care of I couldn't just "release" my current fish or let them die. It just seemed wrong. So I'm definitely voting for human attachment to the animals.

If you don't like animal deaths don't read the "All Cats Go to Heaven" collection. While there are some very heart warming stories in there like the cat who ends up in dog heaven. There is one story in there that still haunts me to this day. I read this collection in high school which was over ten years ago. I have always been a cat owner which is probably why the stories affected me so much.

CaroGirl
10-23-2009, 05:59 PM
It can affect the decision, yeah. It also depends on what friend is doing the recommending and knowing their preferences for such things. Many of my friends are far more vehement against animal/kid deaths than I am, so I take that kind of feedback as part of their overall judgment of the book. I have a friend who will wallbang the book and blacklist the author if ANY animal or child dies in the pages. I'm not that extreme in my reaction.
That's pretty limiting. I think novels like Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Incredible Journey, Bridge to Terabithia, The Giver, and so on, are incredible novels, beautifully written and rich. I think not reading them because an animal or child dies is missing out on a potentially profound and moving experience.

Death is part of life and humans continually strive to make sense of it, even today when death is a more remote experience than it once was. It's through artful expression that people can share moments of both grief and joy, the highs and lows and everything in between, all of which makes up a life.

Mr Flibble
10-23-2009, 06:32 PM
There's a difference between animal deaths that serve the story ( Where the Red Fern Grows, I blubbed so bad) and ones that are just there for shock / titillation value.

Same as human deaths really. If it's a poignant death, with a point, that serves the story, no problem ( or a hunting scene, I can see that. It's reality, but nine time out of ten you aren't emotionally involved with the animal, so...no probs.)

If it's just for the sake of killing something -- not so much.

CaroGirl
10-23-2009, 06:41 PM
There's a difference between animal deaths that serve the story ( Where the Red Fern Grows, I blubbed so bad) and ones that are just there for shock / titillation value.

Same as human deaths really. If it's a poignant death, with a point, that serves the story, no problem ( or a hunting scene, I can see that. It's reality, but nine time out of ten you aren't emotionally involved with the animal, so...no probs.)

If it's just for the sake of killing something -- not so much.
You know, I think if there's a problem as big as that in a novel, it's got more problems. It likely wouldn't make my reading list because it got poorly reviewed or just didn't hit my radar at all.

Thump
10-23-2009, 06:43 PM
I'll read books with animal deaths but I don't enjoy those parts at all. Animal deaths affect me much more than human deaths. I don't mind too much if it's a natural scene of an animal killing the other but when they die because of a man-made reason (war, cruelty, abuse...), it bothers me a whole lot.

I love animals and I think that as a species we've been less than decent about them. I hate it when they're taken for granted.

Mr Flibble
10-23-2009, 06:47 PM
You know, I think if there's a problem as big as that in a novel, it's got more problems. It likely wouldn't make my reading list because it got poorly reviewed or just didn't hit my radar at all.

Almost certainly it'd have more problems. But it's one heck of a clue to put down the book :D

DeleyanLee
10-23-2009, 06:52 PM
That's pretty limiting. I think novels like Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Incredible Journey, Bridge to Terabithia, The Giver, and so on, are incredible novels, beautifully written and rich. I think not reading them because an animal or child dies is missing out on a potentially profound and moving experience.

Everyone has preferences that are limiting. It all depends on why I'm reading the book, what set of preferences I'm going to use in my decision. If I'm reading for pure enjoyment, I don't want that kind of angst in the experience so I'm not going to read books that I know contain things that upset and bother me. If I'm reading for stimulation or curiosity or whatever reason, then the things that bother me are actually part of what I'm looking to get so such things would be a positive rather than a negative.

As I said before, I know people who are far more rabid about not reading about animal deaths than I am. We've had long discussions about it over the years, so I understand where they're coming from. Everyone makes choices that limits them, and everyone's looking for what they want out of a reading experience. What's one person's limitations is another person's freedoms. *shrug*

katiemac
10-23-2009, 07:11 PM
That's pretty limiting. I think novels like Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Incredible Journey, Bridge to Terabithia, The Giver, and so on, are incredible novels, beautifully written and rich. I think not reading them because an animal or child dies is missing out on a potentially profound and moving experience.

If the death, animal or human, is important and necessary to the story, bring it on. I love stories where the author isn't afraid of risk. People die, animals die. So although I said upthread I'm "bothered" more by animal deaths than human ones--I should say "gruesome" animal/human deaths. Rowling killed an animal. It was sad, but I know why she did it and it makes sense, and it was no more sad than the half dozen characters she killed off in the same book.

But on the other hand, if a character of yours goes around nailing puppies to the door (and I think that was either from a book or a movie I saw), then yeah, chances are I'm not going to be okay with that. It will take a lot to convince me that is truly necessary. But I'm not going to say you can't write it.

ETA: In the DVD commentary on Serenity (spoiler alert, kids), Joss Whedon spends a good five minutes explaining his purpose for killing a character right before the last battle. It ups the ante--who will be next? And no, he didn't end up killing anymore characters, but he certainly puts it in your head that he's not afraid to do it. It was a necessary death. Whedon is not afraid to kill characters when it will count in a big way.

That being said, sometimes I think writers kill animals to create that kind of tension. Like, "I just killed off the MC's dog, anything can happen! Who will be next?" But rarely there's no follow through because the writer won't kill a character. So they just sub in an animal, and more often than not it feels false. Like you knew they didn't want to kill a character they liked so they decided to sacrifice the puppy.

maestrowork
10-23-2009, 07:13 PM
I won't read a novel if there are elves in it.

That said, write what you want. You can't please everyone. Not everyone will buy or read your books. Death is part of nature, and animals die more often than people. We eat meat every day -- where do you think meat comes from? But we also should respect others' sensibilities, however "irrational" we think they are. And we also should respect the writers for presenting the truth no matter how "heartstring-tugging" we think they are. No need to say, "they suck." Everyone is different.

Write your story.

rosiecotton
10-23-2009, 07:16 PM
Too scarred from reading Tarka the Otter as a kid!

Marley and Me?--I rather plunge my head into a pot of boiling water.

maestrowork
10-23-2009, 07:18 PM
But on the other hand, if a character of yours goes around nailing puppies to the door (and I think that was either from a book or a movie I saw), then yeah, chances are I'm not going to be okay with that. It will take a lot to convince me that is truly necessary. But I'm not going to say you can't write it.

It really does depend on how it's done, the intention, etc. If it was done for shock and disturbing reasons only, etc. it would turn me off, but that goes with character's death, too, not just cute puppies.

I remember watching the movie Untraceable (Spoiler ahead)...

....and the first thing they did was to have the serial killer torture and kill a kitten on screen. They didn't just describe it; they actually showed the darn thing. That really turned my stomach and not in a good way. I feel manipulated, as if they wanted to say, "you MUST hate the killer now." Of course, the human tortures later in the film just reinforced that feeling.

And for a different reason I did not want to watch Marley & Me -- I don't like to have my emotions deliberately manipulated. I've lost pets before and I know what it's like, and I don't really need to see someone losing their pets in a movie. I feel the same way about people losing their loved ones (such as Terms of Endearment) but it can be done in a way it's not as manipulative.

lucidzfl
10-23-2009, 07:26 PM
I know. It is a cheap trick when about the only villainous act that you get to see him do is kick the dog.

Its not like its even something that is that bad. Now killing a small child, That'll let the reader know this guy is evil.


And to the OP. I actually don't mind when the animal companion dies. I've lost a lot of pets too, and it sucks. But its also a reminder to our mortality.

I feel completely the opposite. Fuck children, the screaming little shits. But hurting a defenseless animal? Punishable by death.

katiemac
10-23-2009, 07:30 PM
It really does depend on how it's done, the intention, etc. If it was done for shock and disturbing reasons only, etc. it would turn me off, but that goes with character's death, too, not just cute puppies.

I remember watching the movie Untraceable (Spoiler ahead)...

....and the first thing they did was to have the serial killer torture and kill a kitten on screen. They didn't just describe it; they actually showed the darn thing. That really turned my stomach and not in a good way. I feel manipulated, as if they wanted to say, "you MUST hate the killer now." Of course, the human tortures later in the film just reinforced that feeling.

Yeah, I definitely would have walked out of that movie. I don't need to see that. But I don't need to see the human deaths, either.


And for a different reason I did not want to watch Marley & Me -- I don't like to have my emotions deliberately manipulated.

I didn't find the actual memoir deliberately manipulative at all. And because it follows the memoir so closely, I didn't really think that of the movie, either. Both these cases were ones where I knew what I was getting myself into. I had a lab with a personality like Marley, and about three years ago now we had to put him down. So for me, it was great to read a memoir that was so relateable. I found it truthful instead of manipulative. I probably wouldn't have seen the movie (no need to put myself through the sadness again since I'd read the memoir), but I ending up needing to for work.

Roger J Carlson
10-23-2009, 07:30 PM
I feel completely the opposite. Fuck children, the screaming little shits. But hurting a defenseless animal? Punishable by death.I take it you're a vegan, then?

Lady Ice
10-23-2009, 07:31 PM
I will read them, but something about how they can't verbalize anything and then they die...I dunno! It's just sad!

Agreed! :(

CaroGirl
10-23-2009, 07:37 PM
Animals. Well, I eat them, I wear them and I own them. I think I have a pretty solid relationship with animals.

Children, though, they're human beings. I'm beginning to wonder why the death of a child falls into the same category as the death of an animal in this thread.

Red-Green
10-23-2009, 07:42 PM
I don't object to them dying. I don't like it as an emotional shorthand though. For example, when a bad person kills a puppy, as a lazy way of showing they're a bad person.

(I also don't like the opposite of an otherwise terrible person being shown as 'a nice person really' because they're kind to kittens.)

That's the only case in which I object. Otherwise, I don't have a knee-jerk reaction against books in which animals die.

Snowstorm
10-23-2009, 07:42 PM
It's rather odd that some people do have a lot of emotions on animal's death in fiction, meanwhile characters can die right and left and that's okay.

BTW, my WIP opens with an animal's death -- it's a hunting scene. So be warned. :)

For me, it's the level of emotional involvement. If an animal dies that I don't have an attachment to (such as in your WIP), I don't mind that. Being emotionally involved and getting that attachment, then the animal dies as the major part of the story, nah, I admit it, I can't take it :cry:.

But reading above how folks can handle people dying to whom we are attached, but not animals, is a curious thing.

CatSlave
10-23-2009, 07:43 PM
...

One thing that has always puzzled me about people bothered by animal deaths is -- why are there different levels of distress for different animals? People are bothered by the deaths of kittens and puppies, but generally not by the death of fish or reptiles. What makes cute mammals intrinsically more valuable than fish or reptiles?
It's a brain-patterning thingy...you relate to puppies and kittens because they have cute round heads and big eyes; they resemble baby humans that way.
Reptiles and fish do not, so humans don't make the emotional connection.
It's just the way we're wired.

katiemac
10-23-2009, 07:51 PM
But reading above how folks can handle people dying to whom we are attached, but not animals, is a curious thing.

I'll still be upset if a human character dies whom I liked. But then part of me is also giving silent props to the author--s/he had the stones to kill a favorite character. This is going to sound contradictory, but if it's an important character and they go by the wayside, I'm half sad (if I liked the guy) and half intrigued because now the stakes are way up. An animal death might be necessary, and it can affect the protagonist, but I can't remember an example where it ever really raised the stakes in a big way. There's a difference.

scarletpeaches
10-23-2009, 07:55 PM
I don't get it at all.

Animal deaths affect you more than humans? Well...don't get it, but fine. Isn't that what you want? A book that affects you emotionally?

Me? I'll read anything as long as it's written well. And I'd feel hypocritical whining about animal deaths when I'm not a vegetarian or vegan. I wonder how many people hating the fluffy little bunnies being harmed in a book will happily tuck into a T-bone for dinner?

maestrowork
10-23-2009, 08:04 PM
Being emotionally involved and getting that attachment, then the animal dies as the major part of the story, nah, I admit it, I can't take it :cry:.

But reading above how folks can handle people dying to whom we are attached, but not animals, is a curious thing.

That's what I mean: why the difference, GIVEN that they're emotionally attached to both the animal and human characters? Why would they tolerate the human death but not the animal's? It is indeed curious.

Snowstorm
10-23-2009, 08:07 PM
I don't know, maestrowork. Human animals are funny critters.

Phaeal
10-23-2009, 08:10 PM
Yup, humans are animals*, too. Fictional humans die, fictional animals die, I don't differentiate.


* What, you'd rather be vegetable or mineral? ;)

TerzaRima
10-23-2009, 08:41 PM
I'm beginning to wonder why the death of a child falls into the same category as the death of an animal in this thread.


Yep, that's right. I found Black Beauty and Red Fern much sadder and hard to read than the deaths of Beth March and Little Nell, which means I think a child has all the moral importance of a draft horse.

Fenika
10-23-2009, 09:02 PM
I blame Disney.

Lol, figures :)


Human deaths, whether in fiction or real life, bother me much more than animal deaths.

One thing that has always puzzled me about people bothered by animal deaths is -- why are there different levels of distress for different animals? People are bothered by the deaths of kittens and puppies, but generally not by the death of fish or reptiles. What makes cute mammals intrinsically more valuable than fish or reptiles?

And birds. We see birds all the time in our yards and stuff, but they don't get the puppy-knee-jerk-reaction.


So, when you read reviews or someone hands you a book to read, do you specifically think to ask, "Do any animals die in this?" and then reject it if the answer is yes? I'm not judging, I just think that's an interesting criterion for selecting novels to read.

Agreed.

tjwriter
10-23-2009, 09:14 PM
We watched Where the Red Fern Grows in school when I was younger. Probably too young. I've never been able to read that book and I will never watch that movie again.

I think intent matters most. I've read books where animals die and left me blubbering like a fool with my nose in a book. But, if the author has done the job right, I'm a blubbering fool for any relevant character death.

ishtar'sgate
10-23-2009, 09:50 PM
I've written about it but it makes me sad, sadder than when people die in books. I think it's because animals can't ask for help, often endure horrible treatment in silent agony and just take it. Our pets give unconditional affection and acceptance and like very small children, trust us to care for them and not hurt them. I will read books where animals die but if it's gruesome or about ome kind of abuse over a long period of time I always put the book down and never look at it again.

blacbird
10-23-2009, 10:00 PM
I do read books where animals die. So what's the point of the title of this thread?

caw

Shadow_Ferret
10-23-2009, 10:05 PM
It depends on the death and the animal.

If its one of the characters' loving dog, who we've developed an emotional attachment to it, sure I don't want to see him die.

If its a cat, go for it. Be as cruel as you like.

maestrowork
10-23-2009, 10:12 PM
Or a ferret.

Roger J Carlson
10-23-2009, 10:17 PM
Or a ferret.that's a given.

TerzaRima
10-23-2009, 10:47 PM
So what's the point of the title of this thread?


To flush out a bunch of weak minded, misanthropic bunny huggers. Why do you hate people, blac? Caw.

Vespertilion
10-23-2009, 11:07 PM
It's not a matter of purity to me, it's the fact that I don't believe they can make a thought-out decision whether or not to sacrifice themselves or not.

If that was in response to my comment, I didn't mean any kind of moral or ethical purity. Purity as in--this is what they are, they aren't mixed-up or made complex by shades of grey. Evil as a characterization can be a type of purity, too. So, I think we're actually agreeing.

And Maestro, shoot away! In hunting scenes, as someone else said, the animal isn't a character. I have never avoided a book because an animal dies. I certainly do consciously avoid them in film, mostly because of the public element of being upset in front of one or more people. That being said, I don't really read the types of books where animal characters die a lot.

Annnnd, I'm about to go write a scene where the villlain kills a lizard to establish his villainousness. Shoot away.

Snowstorm
10-23-2009, 11:09 PM
I've written about it but it makes me sad, sadder than when people die in books. I think it's because animals can't ask for help, often endure horrible treatment in silent agony and just take it. Our pets give unconditional affection and acceptance and like very small children, trust us to care for them and not hurt them. I will read books where animals die but if it's gruesome or about ome kind of abuse over a long period of time I always put the book down and never look at it again.

Best perspective ever, ishtar'sgate. Maybe instinctual?

Shadow_Ferret
10-23-2009, 11:15 PM
Or a ferret.


that's a given.

Did I mention I don't mind when people die, either?

Especially if they're wearing chocolate pants.

Lyra Jean
10-23-2009, 11:29 PM
Yep, that's right. I found Black Beauty and Red Fern much sadder and hard to read than the deaths of Beth March and Little Nell, which means I think a child has all the moral importance of a draft horse.

The same with me. Perhaps with Beth we are expecting her to die and her family was doing their best to take care of her. While in Black Beauty the owners just didn't care how the horses were treated.

Lyra Jean
10-23-2009, 11:30 PM
It depends on the death and the animal.

If its one of the characters' loving dog, who we've developed an emotional attachment to it, sure I don't want to see him die.

If its a cat, go for it. Be as cruel as you like.

What about a ferret? :evil

Roger J Carlson
10-23-2009, 11:31 PM
Did I mention I don't mind when people die, either?

Especially if they're wearing chocolate pants.Hehe. All in good fun. Oh look at Ray's chocolate pants!

scarletpeaches
10-23-2009, 11:50 PM
To flush out a bunch of weak minded, misanthropic bunny huggers. Why do you hate people, blac? Caw.I love you.

Mind, I wouldn't care if you died, but I still love you.

TerzaRima
10-24-2009, 12:07 AM
There's this curious binary notion people get about compassion. If you have it for one thing, you can't have it for another.

It might be apt to repost this:

Just about any discussion of animal cruelty/welfare eventually reaches this point:

PERSON A: Somebody stomped my kitten to death. Man, I'd like to get that guy in a room with a baseball bat and my mobster cousin, Eddie.

PERSON B: How can you be upset about this when the little children, they are starving?

PERSON A: Dude! He stomped my cat to death! I really miss Rumpleteezer, too.

PERSON B: You think animals are more important than people and you hate the little children. My God, the Internet is a vast and chilly place.

PERSON A: I MISS MY KITTY

PERSON B: BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHILLLLDREN?

The Lonely One
10-24-2009, 12:14 AM
I feel completely the opposite. Fuck children, the screaming little shits. But hurting a defenseless animal? Punishable by death.



I take it you're a vegan, then?

I didn't know vegans beat their children. Jeez.

http://www.sector930.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/nbc_the_more_you_know1.jpg

and also (I think this one is from GI Joe):

http://loyalkng.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/gi-joe-cartoon-psa.jpg

Roger J Carlson
10-24-2009, 12:26 AM
I didn't know vegans beat their children. Jeez.
But they don't eat them.

jodiodi
10-24-2009, 02:54 AM
I feel completely the opposite. Fuck children, the screaming little shits. But hurting a defenseless animal? Punishable by death.

Gotta say, this sums up my opinion pretty well.

I think my hatred of animal pain/death in books or on screen also extends to not liking anything helpless being hurt. Small, defenseless infants as well as old, decrepit, helpless people also affect me though not the same way an animal does.

I just like animals better than I like people. I've never been deliberately hurt by an animal. Can't say the same about people.

jodiodi
10-24-2009, 02:57 AM
I've written about it but it makes me sad, sadder than when people die in books. I think it's because animals can't ask for help, often endure horrible treatment in silent agony and just take it. Our pets give unconditional affection and acceptance and like very small children, trust us to care for them and not hurt them. I will read books where animals die but if it's gruesome or about ome kind of abuse over a long period of time I always put the book down and never look at it again.

I totally agree with almost all of this statement. However, I'll put the book down as soon as an animal dies or will deliberately skip the whole chapter.

ishtar'sgate
10-24-2009, 03:00 AM
Best perspective ever, ishtar'sgate. Maybe instinctual?
Probably.

Rowan
10-24-2009, 04:24 AM
But gruesome animal deaths in fiction stick with me and bother me more than human deaths, I don't really know why. I won't necessarily stop reading the book, but I also won't pick something up that promises lots of puppy torture. That's just no fun.



This is pretty much my stance too.

Fiction aside....one of the most touching stories that features the loss of a beloved 4-legger is one we all know, Marley and Me. I can't imagine not reading that book just because an animal died. It was a beautifully written story and while sad, also very uplifting. The Red Pony and Old Yeller. I think the impact is largely in part due to how well both were written - gripping.

ISHTAR: I agree with what you posted too. Well stated. :)


ETA: nevermind..........................

Kalyke
10-24-2009, 05:04 AM
My book is all about a mean person trying to kill a horse.

KTC
10-24-2009, 05:05 AM
trying is the key word. (-;

Cassiopeia
10-24-2009, 05:14 AM
I can not and will not read fiction that brutalizes or murders animals or small children.

I can't, I won't.

I'm too tenderhearted and it affects me too much. It stays with me and I turn around and hate the author for it. I find it traumatic.

KTC
10-24-2009, 05:16 AM
I can not and will not read fiction that brutalizes or murders animals or small children.

I can't, I won't.

I'm too tenderhearted and it affects me too much. It stays with me and I turn around and hate the author for it. I find it traumatic.

What about when fathers are killed by their own hand because they're losers and his poor innocent children suffer losing a parent? Does reading that make you hate the writer? Do the blood birds bother you?

Cassiopeia
10-24-2009, 05:24 AM
What about when fathers are killed by their own hand because they're losers and his poor innocent children suffer losing a parent? Does reading that make you hate the writer? Do the blood birds bother you?
I think the loathing is based on the graphic and gratuitous nature of it in both literature and movies.

But that's me, I'm just too sensitive.

KTC
10-24-2009, 05:26 AM
I think the loathing is based on the graphic and gratuitous nature of it in both literature and movies.

But that's mean, I'm just too sensitive.

I was just fooling around. I don't like anything gratuitous in literature or in movies. When it's needed, okay...when it's gratuitous? Not so much.

Cassiopeia
10-24-2009, 05:27 AM
I was just fooling around. I don't like anything gratuitous in literature or in movies. When it's needed, okay...when it's gratuitous? Not so much.
:)

So it's not just me? My eighteen year old is the same as me. We can't stand to watch it. It's a race to see who can change the channel first.

jodiodi
10-24-2009, 05:36 AM
I'm with Cassiopeia.

Brutal Mustang
10-24-2009, 06:10 AM
I'm with Cassiopeia.

As am I.

CaroGirl
10-24-2009, 04:47 PM
I rarely encounter gratuitous violence toward animals in the fiction I read. Please, tell me what you lot are reading so I can more studiously avoid it.

A whale beaches itself and dies at the beginning of the book I'm reading but the incident is what the whole novel is centred around. Definitely not gratuitous.

Snowstorm
10-24-2009, 08:12 PM
:) So it's not just me? My eighteen year old is the same as me. We can't stand to watch it. It's a race to see who can change the channel first.

You are absolutely not alone. I'm the same way. You said it the best.

Lady Ice
10-24-2009, 09:10 PM
Animal deaths...I suppose because if the animal's a pet, it's built up a relationship of trust, despite the fact that it and the owner cannot communicate. And I just think it's unnecessary and cruel to include it in a book as an emotional ploy.

maestrowork
10-24-2009, 09:21 PM
Gratuitous anything is a sign of bad storytelling, whether it's violence, sex, or deaths of characters (human or otherwise).

KTC
10-24-2009, 09:23 PM
That's what I was saying, Ray. I agree completely. You can tell when it's gratuitous...sticks out like a sore thumb.

Cassiopeia
10-24-2009, 09:28 PM
You know what's sad though? I realized after I said what I did that I am willing to tolerate graphic scenes of those who fit outside the small children and animals. I especially enjoy watching a good vampire killing.

I need help. I really do. :D

But on a serious note, I'm not fond of violence if its too graphic but I've grown insensitive in areas where I really ought not to have.

maestrowork
10-24-2009, 09:48 PM
If I'm bothered by specific stuff like graphic violence or baby killing, I'd skip past the passages. If it's done for gratuitous reasons, it would ruin the book for me. But otherwise, I just skip (like I would with a DVD of a movie) but I wouldn't close the book and stop reading. To me, that's a bit extreme.

Cassiopeia
10-24-2009, 09:53 PM
If I'm bothered by specific stuff like graphic violence or baby killing, I'd skip past the passages. If it's done for gratuitous reasons, it would ruin the book for me. But otherwise, I just skip (like I would with a DVD of a movie) but I wouldn't close the book and stop reading. To me, that's a bit extreme.

I suppose it comes down to how strong a reaction I might have to something. If I am really annoyed at something I felt was really bad and totally gratuitous, that author does not deserve my continued reading.

I find that I skip over things in books a times and not just violence.

maestrowork
10-24-2009, 10:14 PM
I have some very strong material, violence, etc. in the WIP. I don't think they're gratuitous, but I do think it may be upsetting to some people. After all, war is harsh.

Cassiopeia
10-24-2009, 10:16 PM
I have some very strong material, violence, etc. in the WIP. I don't think they're gratuitous, but I do think it may be upsetting to some people. After all, war is harsh.Yes, but you see there's a difference here. Someone picking up your book is going to know, it's a book about war. They will be anticipating violence.

Again, we know that scenes in a story need to be genre and topic appropriate. If I were reading your book and I started to read a violent scene and I felt it was too much, I'd skip ahead. It wouldn't annoy me, I'd have expected it given the topic.

maestrowork
10-24-2009, 10:20 PM
I think starting with hunting and killing an animal sets the tone already. LOL

Linda Adams
10-25-2009, 03:46 AM
I rarely encounter gratuitous violence toward animals in the fiction I read. Please, tell me what you lot are reading so I can more studiously avoid it.

A whale beaches itself and dies at the beginning of the book I'm reading but the incident is what the whole novel is centred around. Definitely not gratuitous.

I run across it a lot in mysteries and thrillers. If the character has a cat or dog, it's pretty much a given the animal is going to die at the hands of the bad guy. I just sent one back to the library where a Golden Retriever was killed by the bad guy. It's very hard reading these and running across an animal, because my immediate reaction is that the animal is going to die--and that's always what happens. But I also get a vibe from the rest of the book, when the dog or cat appears, that it doesn't feel the author likes animals in the first place. So the death of the animal comes across a shock value to show the reader that the bad guy is evil, not as anything really important in the story until the point they die.

At ThrillerFest James Rollins told everyone not to put a dog in a book. He did in his first one, which was a thriller. He didn't hurt the dog at all (he's a veternarian), but he got a lot of hate mail for including the dog. I think everyone was expecting the dog to die because it was a thriller, and so every time the dog popped on the page, they expected something gratutitious to happen.

Now Tamora Pierce does use animals extensively in her stories, and she's had them get hurt and also die. It not only is a logical development of the story, but they're also treated as major characters in the story--and the fact that she really loves animals shows through. I like her stories and won't put them down because an animal dies, but any time I see it in a mystery or thriller, I stopped reading. But then I stop reading at gratuitious violence to humans, too.

CaroGirl
10-25-2009, 04:29 AM
I run across it a lot in mysteries and thrillers. If the character has a cat or dog, it's pretty much a given the animal is going to die at the hands of the bad guy. I just sent one back to the library where a Golden Retriever was killed by the bad guy. It's very hard reading these and running across an animal, because my immediate reaction is that the animal is going to die--and that's always what happens. But I also get a vibe from the rest of the book, when the dog or cat appears, that it doesn't feel the author likes animals in the first place. So the death of the animal comes across a shock value to show the reader that the bad guy is evil, not as anything really important in the story until the point they die.

At ThrillerFest James Rollins told everyone not to put a dog in a book. He did in his first one, which was a thriller. He didn't hurt the dog at all (he's a veternarian), but he got a lot of hate mail for including the dog. I think everyone was expecting the dog to die because it was a thriller, and so every time the dog popped on the page, they expected something gratutitious to happen.

Now Tamora Pierce does use animals extensively in her stories, and she's had them get hurt and also die. It not only is a logical development of the story, but they're also treated as major characters in the story--and the fact that she really loves animals shows through. I like her stories and won't put them down because an animal dies, but any time I see it in a mystery or thriller, I stopped reading. But then I stop reading at gratuitious violence to humans, too.
I read the thriller and mystery genres occasionally, but not enough to realize this is a trope. Thanks for the interesting information. Much appreciated.

ishtar'sgate
10-25-2009, 05:06 AM
Marley and Me. I can't imagine not reading that book just because an animal died.


I can. My husband thought it would be a sweet movie for me to watch just after my little dog was run over and killed - kind of a happy story about a dog. You can guess my horror. He couldn't stop apologizing poor guy.

ishtar'sgate
10-25-2009, 05:08 AM
I have some very strong material, violence, etc. in the WIP. I don't think they're gratuitous, but I do think it may be upsetting to some people. After all, war is harsh.
Just noticed your avatar. Congrats!

Brutal Mustang
10-25-2009, 05:40 AM
Now Tamora Pierce does use animals extensively in her stories, and she's had them get hurt and also die. It not only is a logical development of the story, but they're also treated as major characters in the story--and the fact that she really loves animals shows through. I like her stories and won't put them down because an animal dies, but any time I see it in a mystery or thriller, I stopped reading. But then I stop reading at gratuitious violence to humans, too.

That is it! That is it! I have been trying to put a finger on it, since the last thread like this, and you nailed it. I don't mind so much reading about animals/children/old people in bad situations if it is not gratuitous, but mainly if I can tell the writer truly loves, respects, and knows the subject. Responsible hunting doesn't bother me either. A lot of animal lovers hunt and eat meat, myself included. (Hell, if I were a wild animal, I'd much rather go by a bullet than by being torn to pieces by a lion!)

But yeah, such a large percentage of animal deaths in books ARE gratuitous. Especially in books revolving around killers, used as a cheap ploy to show how evil the baddie is. You know, J.K. Rowling never made Voldemort kill a puppy to show us how evil he was, and yet, it felt like he could, if it tickled his fancy. In doing so, she opened the story to a much wider audience => readership => book sales.

djf881
10-25-2009, 12:31 PM
I only like it when the delicious animals die.

The Lonely One
10-25-2009, 11:13 PM
I just read a book where a young girl at an English girl's prep school is hit with oranges in a sock, stripped naked, her shoes stolen, shoved through a broken window several times, her eyesight partially lost forever from blood...

And the book is not really that violent at all. Death is a theme, but not overtly violent. Why it works is that it is built up slowly over the course of many pages. It is foreshadowed, not sudden or a parlor trick to illicit a response.

If done in this same manner, I would equally accept that sort of behavior toward an animal.

My feelings are for or against the characters who do the actions, not the author who writes them down. I also accept it more from a flawed character rather than an "evil" one. I hate that whole evil denomination; I don't think people are evil, just varying degrees of wrong, and imperfect.

And I even forgave the character who shoved the little girl through the window, in the end. That just shows a tremendous talent on the author's part, IMO.

Tasteful is tasteful, blood porn is blood porn. We all know the difference.