ENGL 2000: Texts & Contexts
Prof. Mary McElligott
13 February 2014
The Role of Caesar in "Coming, Aphrodite!"
In "Coming Aphrodite!", Willa Cather writes the story based on three main characters, Don Hedger, his dog Caesar III and Eden Bower. Caesar is more than a bulldog; he is a vital element for readers to understand the story's protagonist, Don Hedger. Willa Cather depicts Caesar not only as the pet of Don Hedger, but also as the symbol of his artistic consciousness. Caesar is the medium that Willa Cather uses in order to articulate her personal beliefs in regard to the artist's struggle between the material world and the ideal world as well as the artist's place in society.
Hedger's behavior towards his dog indicates that Caesar represents his artistic consciousness. Hedger and Caesar prefer each other's company to a magnificent degree. In fact, Caesar is almost the only individual whom Hedger communicates with in his life.
The way Hedger treats Caesar exceeds how masters usually treat their pet animals. Most of the time, Caesar is even cleaner and looks sharper the master himself. Hedger is always in his "old striped blanket coat" with his "bushy hair" (94), but he puts a brass-studded collar on Caesar to make sure the dog looks elegant. Everyday, he will go for strolls in the square not for himself but "for the dog's health" (95). With all of this, we can see that Hedger does not only take care of the dog, but almost worships Caesar. Willa Cather is not only describing Caesar as a simple bull dog, but as the symbol of what is really the most important thing in Hedger's existence: the artistic consciousness. The identification of Caesar is actually Hedger's artistic talents and imagination in "Coming, Aphrodite!" As...