For the entirety of Disgrace, the only time the reader has been given the opportunity to see the most humane and compassionate side of David,it has been in his dealings with the dogs he looks after at the clinic with Bev. So why then does the book end with David giving up this dog, sacrificing his life before the time is right? Why does David feel in this moment that he has to have this control and control the fate of this dog’s life? As the novel comes to an end, the reader sees Lucy and David growing more and more distant and not agreeing in their train of thought. David feels a need to control variables and people in his life. We see this in his sex life as well as feeling the need to tell Lucy what he thinks to be best for her. But Lucy being the strong, independent woman that she is does not let David walk all over her and control her decisions.
Though their relationship had been distant for a while, the tipping point for David was Lucy deciding she was not going to abort the baby. When she tells him that her decision, David does not understand this and tries to ration with her and persuade her not to keep the baby. As a father, he thinks that she will not want to have this child for the rest of her life, have this child be a reminder of her rape and how she was attacked. Coming from a point of protecting her and having her best interests at heart, I think that David is finally showing how deeply he cares for Lucy. His methods however are all wrong and he does not actually listen to Lucy and receive what she is saying.
Lucy has her own reasons for not wanting to abort this baby and these decisions should be respected since it is her body and her DNA. She wants to give this life growing inside of her the opportunity to make it’s own decisions and make a life for herself. To Lucy, not only do the rape and actions that were taken against her what matter, but also this living thing inside of her. David is being very close-minded and selfish in his thinking but Lucy is being more open and accepting of all variables involved and not only thinking of herself.
This characteristic, this compassion that Lucy harbors highlights the major difference between David and his daughter. He thinks only of what will benefit him most, whereas Lucy takes her time to make decisions and consciously weigh all the variables and all the different outcomes. This causes the divide between the two, David’s urge to always dominate and Lucy’s ability to be strong and think for herself. David is frustrating by his inability to control Lucy and her life, so he sacrifices this dog as his way of coping with the loss of control over Lucy. Giving up this dog is David’s way of regaining control in his life and having control over something because even his own life has gotten out of his hands. He can no longer be the puppet master, no longer manipulate others to get what he wants. But a dog? A helpless, domesticated animal that he can carry in his arms? This animal stands no chance against David and his need for control. This dog’s fate was sealed when David decided he needed to regain control. Whether it is a conscious or unconscious decision, the killing of this dog merely symbolizes David cutting the strings with Lucy and letting her free. He is detaching himself from her and all aspects of her life, putting an end to the life of the relationship he has with her. This dog’s death is the death of a beautiful relationship he had started to create with his daughter. David’s desire for control has driven everyone out of his life. Even these dogs that he previously showed so much compassion for, no longer hold a place in his life. In order to have his control, David kills every relationship and bond he has developed in his life. This dog only symbolizes another chapter of his life, another phase that has come to an end due to his need for control and domination. The cycle repeats, until David is left with nothing but his own dreadful thoughts.