The temptation of reading “Heart of a Dog” as purely post-Russian Revolution political allegory may have been stifled too far in the opposite direction, but the story does seem more about general human educational and cultural development, a hybrid of Frankenstein, Animal Farm, and My Fair Lady. Communism fails for equally reapportioning positives while leaving the negatives unbalanced, matching the dichotomy of Philip’s positive and Ivan’s negative reinforcement. Childrearing, petowning, and bondage are collectively satirized as losses of liberty: only the beast admires the leash, with the price of loyalty $1.40. Individually cannot be squelched by bookburning an offending tome after it has been read; ideas are destroyed only by removing the soul, which is glandular, developing with maturation. The narration switches from 1st person to 3rd, with Sharik going from being so sympathetic that the reader initially isn’t sure his species, to a frighteningly foreign and increasingly absent 3rd person. Beauty is pliability, even transspecies; the out of control familiar is monstrous.

And if your galoshes are stolen in Act 1, there will be a flood in Act 3.