Animal Rights in “Drive your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead”

In Olga Tokarczuk’s novel, Drive your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, the main character Janina has a special connection with animals that she doesn’t have with people. Throughout the book, the names of animals are capitalized, such as Fox, Deer, Dog, etc. Although they are improper nouns. Also, Janina isn’t able to form connections with people the way that she is able to connect with animals and care for them. She dislikes most humans, but goes as far as murder when it comes to animals. This is very unique because most people don’t even think about things like veganism or using cruelty free products in their day to day lives, but Janina is extreme when it comes to animals. My question is, is Janina truly crazy or do our societal norms dramatize her actions regarding her care of animals? Since animals are seen as less than in our society, many would view Janina’s murders as unjust because humans and animals aren’t equal, so a human shouldn’t be killed for an animal. But looking from Janina’s perspective, she sees animals as equal to or better than humans, so killing people for an animal would make sense for her. It is just like someone feeling okay defending a friend or family member who got murdered, by murdering their killer.

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