15-year-old Vic is a survivor of World War IV. In this alternate world, dogs have achieved telepathic abilities, and Vic has teamed up with a dog named, Blood, arguably the smarter of the pair. Together, they scavenge the wasteland of the former United States. They search for food, shelter, and sex for Vic. It is in this quest that they find a woman named Quilla June, who is out to lure Vic for her own purposes.
I'm doing things a little differently here, so anything beyond here may have spoilers!
Sexist Attitudes of the Protagonist and the Post Apocalyptic Wasteland
In the post-apocalyptic wasteland, it’s every man for themselves. Women are used for sex, and it’s not often that women are spotted. Vic grew up in this world, presumably without the proper guidance that we, today, give children. So, is not surprising that he is a product of more primal urges. The story is not framed in a way that gives the impression that Vic (or the author) think that what they are doing is moral, just that it is the new norm in that world. Women are commodities, just like food, shelter, and weapons. I point this out because I know there are large groups of readers who are more sensitive to these topics. I don’t believe it isn’t worth reading, even when it is, at times, difficult to read how badly the world has fallen.
I foresee that some audiences might not like Vic, or the story in general, on principle. As for not liking a protagonist because you don’t agree with his morals or actions, a protagonist isn’t a hero. By literary definition, it’s just the main figure of a story. A third-grade teacher might say the protagonist is a hero so their students can understand, but protagonists are so much more. We don’t have to like them. We can’t always believe them. But we follow their story. (Did you know there are people in this world that we don’t like, but have interesting stories? Shocking.)
Decrease in Crude Language and Behaviour
I can see why the film version made him less crude and forceful with his interactions with women (though he does have quite the remark about the woman who was killed in the beginning of the film). Even in the 70s, I think it would have been hard to reveal on the screen that Vic had indeed, raped many women before, hurting them, leaving them in dangerous situations, and had zero regards for them as people. He was specifically trying to find Quilla for this purpose, but in the film, he softens quickly to her idea of being together forever (as long as Blood can come, too).
Quilla June: Book VS Film
What was disappointing to me is how obviously evil she is in the film. In the book, it’s ambiguous how the reader is definitely meant to feel about her. Vic’s ultimate decision brings an array of possible reactions/emotions: disgust, resignation, understanding, sadness.
In the film, she is a terrible person who is using Vic for her own agenda. So when it’s barbeque time, it’s difficult to have too many conflicting emotions about it. Blood would aggravate Vic, but Quilla is undeniably a detestable character. The film dumbed-down the whole conflict. This should have been the best aspect of the film and it turned it into, eww, cannibalism! No. The ending to the book is, “A boy loves his dog.” The film ends with Blood saying, “Well I'd say she certainly had marvellous judgement, Albert, if not particularly good taste.” Way to kill any kind of nuance.
Book Topeka vs Film Topeka
|You can look at your best friend and say, |
"To the farm, immediately" and have an in-joke.
There, I just gave you a thing.
Originally, I discovered this more than 10 years ago from the I Read Comics podcast by Lene Taylor. I can't see which episode specifically talks about it, though they are all great. I am indebted to her, not only for all those hours of entertainment, but for introducing me to more stories I would have never come across otherwise. She currently blogs at Look At His Butt! and that has it's own podcast (her voice is exceptional btw, go check her out).
I can't recall if it was her or a guest, who basically said, Well, it's not called A Boy and His Dog and His Girlfriend. And that sentiment has literally stayed with me and I've repeated it so many time I've lost count.