Throughout “Drive Your Plow of the Bones of the Dead” it’s apparent that Janina’s way of thinking is tied to astrology. Astrology symbolizes the human need to form a sense of order from life’s inherent chaos. Janina’s devout belief in astrology conveys how she uses it as a source of comfort and clarity. Despite the fact that other characters make it clear that they believe astrology is arbitrary and continuously allude to how they think it has no real connection to reality, Janina’s belief never wavers.
The use of Astrology in the novel grasps my interest as Tokarczuk intertwines it on almost every page. Janina connects everything she does back to astrology. Using it as a way to guide her actions and dare I say justify them.
Here is a brief overview of important terms to understand regarding Janina and her love for astrology:
The Houses: There are 12 houses in an astrology chart. Each represents different facets of your life, based on the time and location of birth, and shows the gifts or obstacles you will face in this lifetime.
Pluto as a ruling planet: Pluto is associated with darkness, the subconscious, death, and rebirth. When a person’s ruling planet is pluto, they tend to crave mystery and intensity. Pluto plays a part in one’s never-ending fascination with learning things that will transcend what they know.
Venus as a ruling planet: Venus is all about pleasure, especially pleasure shared with someone else and pleasure derived from possessions. This planet concerns itself with love, romance, and harmony in our emotional attachments, marriages, friendships, etc. It allows one to appreciate the exquisite nature of things.
Why are those terms important? Throughout the novel, Pluto and Venus as ruling planets, and the houses are brought up a lot, especially in regard to the murder victims.
Going back to my main point while most of Janina’s actions were fueled by rage and the need to seek revenge for the murder of her daughters and the other undomesticated animals she humanizes; I believe that ultimately she used her faith in astrology to justify her actions. From the beginning of the novel Janina appears peculiar in her overall nature. From the instant shifts from past and present, fragmented stories, and through misquoting William Blake it becomes apparent that she is an unreliable narrator. With every anecdote, she told she was miraculously always portrayed as either the victim or the heroin. Everything was framed just right.
“Secondly: I decided to examine certain highly distinctive pieces of information to be gained from the victims’ cosmograms (commonly known as Horoscopes), and in both cases it appears obvious that they may have been fatally attacked by Animals. This is a very rare configuration of the planets, and thus I have great confidence in commending it to the attention of the Police. I am taking the liberty of enclosing both Horoscopes, in the expectation that the police Astrologer will consult them, and then support my Hypothesis”Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead, Page 160
Looking at the above excerpt of the letter Janina sends to the police it becomes clear that she rationalizes the deaths and explains how based on the configurations of the victim’s horoscopes that they were meant to die how they died and when they did. While I may be way off in my thinking, the letters written to the police were used as a way to soothe Janinas conscious in the sense that the letters justified her actions by expressing why she felt little remorse. She did what she thought was befitting and what aligned with their fate that had been expressed in their horoscopes, and it helped her get revenge on the people who wronged her.