Discovered this tidbit from Andrew Toy on his fine blog adoptingjames. For the first on his list of movies about adoption, Toy talks about “101 Dalmations” and how Pongo and Perdita, the mother and father dog, decide to adopt 85 extra pups along with their own stolen 15 (yeowch, that must have been a hell of a pregnancy) that wind up on death row. I haven’t actually seen this flick since I was about 5 (although I’m sure Little Fickle’s dog-loving best friend, Jetta, has seen it approximately 197 times and counting), but the Shakespeare center of my brain immediately kicked in when I saw the name Perdita. In A Winter’s Tale, Perdita is the daughter of the jealousy-crazed Leontes, who casts her out as an infant because he thinks she’s some other man’s child. Then, it occurred to me: Perdita is also an adoptee. She’s taken in and raised by a shepherd and his wife. So here Perdita goes from adoptee to adopter.
Clever, huh? Who knew Disney could be so subtle.
(Actually, in the book by Dodie Smith that the movie is based on, Perdita is a homeless Dalmatian that the Dearlys find abandoned in the street. The name Perdita means “lost,” so that could be what Smith was going for with her tale of a lost dog. By re-naming the mother dog “Perdita,” though [she’s just Mrs. Pongo in the book], Disney puts a different twist on the adoption story: the lost dog saves others from being lost.)