As I was buying Dogeaters, I was very surprised with the cover of the book. The phrase, “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” was running through my mind as I was paying the cashier at the Redlands bookstore. However, I could not help myself showing my roommate and friends the cover of the book due to it’s uniqueness. My friends thought the cover was scary, while others thought the illustration on the cover would tell the secret from the inside. I decided that I had to read the 251 pages myself to find out how the book design compared to the inside of the book.
I was thrilled to hear that this would be the first novel we would read in class. I could not wait until I could read the story of why this author chose this certain illustration on the cover. As I began reading, I could not find comparisons to the text and to the illustration. There are many stories that are combined which made it confusing for me to understand. However, there was one character who reminded me of the cover.
The main character is Rio, who is a young Pilipino girl that grows up in America with her family and her curious cousin. Her family enjoys the “American” way of life, while Rio and her cousin enjoy the glamour of Hollywood. Sometimes they imagine themselves as characters in a movie, or even marrying some handsome actor one day. As Pilipino families grew together in America, they wanted to find something which they would belong to. Many people turned to the attention of how they can survive in a world with many different races and cultures. This is how I imagined the cover of Dogeaters.
I believe that the woman in the center of the book is Rio. This illustration depicts women’s liberation in Asian American literature. Pilipino women are strong, determined, and powerful in their own minds. The sword in the woman’s left hand could be a symbol of how these women depict themselves. In the right hand of this powerful figure, is a head which looks like a male. Together, with the sword and the male’s head, Asian American women dealt with horrible situations in their lives by just doing the best they could to survive in America such as prostitution.
While the angels up above the heavens put a crown upon Rio’s head, one is covering her face and the other is watching in astonishment. These angels depict what is good and bad in the Pilipino culture. I believe that the crown put upon Rio’s head is a symbol of the culture of Asian Americans. Asian American women can always fall back upon their culture to rely on.
All in all, there are many illustrations on book covers that might go with the theme of the book. Until I read the whole book, I realized that Rio could stand for the woman on the cover of Dogeaters. Rio is the symbol of the future for many Asian American women. The future is shown in Rio as is shown on the cover where her body is notifying the world that she is carrying the next generation of young American cultures. While standing firmly in what she believes in, a red blanket is draped around her arms to symbolize “togetherness” for women of color.