I’m reading Richard Adams’ The Plague Dogs with Ezekiel. (Thank you, Faith Academy library! What a blessing!) I have spoken before about Adams’ allusivity, especially as he uses Homer and Vergil in Watership Down. I first read The Plague Dogs back in my own teen years, so it is very entertaining to read it again some 25 (?) years later.
Here’s a bit I caught tonight, from Snitter’s conversation with the Pekinese just before he and Rowf escape from the building where the dogs are imprisoned in wire pens.
“What are you doing?” asked the Pekinese, nose pressed against the wire.”Why are you loose? What’s that on your head? It smells of that stuff the whitecoats put over everything.”
“It’s to keep the frost out,” answered Snitter. “My head’s a bird-table, you know. The whitecoats cover it with bread every morning and then watch while the birds come and eat it.”
The parallel is an ominous one. Like the baker, Snitter is in prison, has visions of his head, and hopes to escape. There the similarity appears to end, however, since Snitter does escape, and the baker doesn’t. A bit of misdirection?
I dont know if there’s more to the allusion, but that it is an allusion, I have little doubt. Not sure why I didn’t get it as a teenager. Ezekiel recognized it.