In Isaac Bashevis Singer's The Magician of Lublin, our main character Yasha named his horses "Kara" and "Shiva", and refers to them as "Dust" and "Ashes:

He need not have bothered with such instructions; she always remembered to draw water from the well for Kara and Shiva, their brace of grey mares, or, as Yasha had nicknamed them, Dust and Ashes.


While dressing, he capered and clowned like a schoolboy, whistled at the canaries, addressed Yoktan, the monkey; spoke to Haman, the dog, and to Meztotze, the cat. This was only part of the menagerie he kept.
(translated by Elaine Gottlieb and Joseph Singer, 1960)

The name that particularly caught my eye was the name of the dog - Haman. The name "Haman" is that of the antagonist is the story in the Scroll of Esther (Megillat Ester), in which Haman tries to wipe out at the Jews. Traditionally, people will append "may his name be erased" when discussing him (ימח שמו), and drown out his name whenever it's read out loud on Purim.

Why, then, would Yasha name his dog after such a person, and how does this reflect on Yasha as a character?

"Yoktan" is a biblical figure, but I'm not sure what "Meztotze" refers to (or which language it's in; I suspect Yiddish, but my Yiddish is practically nonexistant so I'm not certain). "Shiva" can refer to the mourning period that's observed after a death - which would fit with "Ashes" - but it could also mean "Seven" in Hebrew. I don't know what "Kara" might refer to.

So, to sum up: What do the names of Yasha's animals mean, and how do these names reflect on Yasha as a character?


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