The Cat Who Thought She Was a Dog, and the Dog

“The Cat Who Thought She Was a
Dog, and the Dog Who Thought He
Was a Cat”
By: Isaac Bashevis Singer
Isaac Bashevis Singer
Singer grew up in Poland and spent much time
with his father, a Jewish rabbi. As a rabbi, his
father was often called upon to settle disputes
between members of the synagogue.
Singer listened in the “court” of his father, and he
learned from the wisdom his father shared with
others. Throughout his writing, Singer often
conveys these messages with his readers.
Isaac Bashevis Singer
Influence of Parents
Singer’s father probably did not allow
many “vanities” in the household,
such as mirrors.
How would not having a mirror
affect you? Would it change the way
you felt about yourself?
Vocabulary for Story
One who is very poor, one who lives without luxuries
A person who travels from place to place selling items
Enchanted by, impressed with
Small items of little value; things such as costume jewelry
A form of money
Obsessed with one’s appearance; pride in one’s looks
The condition of being extremely poor
Where does the story take place?
How would you describe the home of the Skibas?
Character Description
What is Jan Skiba like as a person? How do we know?
Conflict is the struggle between two opposing forces.
In this story, we are looking at two types of conflict,
Man Vs. Man and Man vs. Self.
Man vs. Man: One or more persons against one or
more persons. This could be a verbal or physical fight.
Man vs. Self: This is internal conflict; a person’s
conflict with their self, such as a person vs. their fears,
insecurities, or internal struggles.
Give an example of man vs. man conflict from the story.
Give two examples of man vs. self conflict from the story.
The moral of a story is a lesson that the author wants
us to learn.
Examples of morals of stories:
Look before you leap.
Be careful what you wish for.
Treat others as you wish to be treated.
Can you think of a moral that would fit for the story we
just read?
Themes vs. Morals
It can be hard to tell the difference between a theme
or a moral of a story.
In general, a theme expresses the overall idea of the
story. Stories can have more than one theme.
The moral of a story is generally expressed as a lesson
learned or a piece of advice.
Character Actions
Singer exaggerates what the characters do to
improve their looks. He does this to create
humor, and show us how silly it is to focus
solely on our appearance.
What are some silly ways the characters try to
improve their looks?
Thematic Focus
What understanding of themselves
do the characters lose when they
discover their reflections in the
Check Your Comprehension
1. Briefly describe the Skiba’s
house and way of life.
2. What is special about their cat
and dog?
3. List the events leading up to
the purchase of the mirror by
the Skibas.
Check Your Comprehension
4. What problems does the mirror
create for the human and
animal characters?
5. How does Jan Skiba solve these
Critical Thinking
1. What is similar about all the goods
that the peddler shows Marianna?
2. In what way does the mirror, a
strange new object, cause the
humans and animals to become
strangers to themselves?
Critical Thinking
3. Why are the characters’ reactions to the
mirror both funny and sad?
4. Why does the simple fact that Skiba has
removed the mirror have such a dramatic
effect on the family?
5. Could a dog think it’s a cat and a cat think
it’s a dog? Why or why not?
6. Would it be possible for our society to do
without mirrors? Explain.
Connection to Real Life
How do people try to change or improve their looks?
Connection to Real Life
How do people try to change or improve their looks?
Hair Dye
Plastic Surgery
Teeth Whitening
Shoes that add height
Sun Tanning Booths
“Permanent” Makeup

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