Robin is everything the Doctor wants to be but can’t and that’s why he is the one that understands her the most, but it is also why she angers him. The Doctor tries to become a beast but can’t because of the past tying him down. Therefore, he can’t be his true self and must instead hide behind a façade. In contrast, in the beginning, Robin is described as a beast and at the end “becomes” one. She forgets her past and lives a life that supports her desire to control everything, despite it being harmful to both herself and others. This outwardly destructive behavior is different from the Doctor where he tries to help people understand their situation, and attempts to point them in the right direction. So, where Robin destroys others to benefit herself, the Doctor tries to mend them but, at the cost of his own sanity. However, it is the symbolism of the dog and the beast that highlights their connection the best.
While explaining his backstory the Doctor mentions some advice he received from Father Lucas where he was told, “be simple, … life is a simple book, and an open book, read and be simple as the beasts in the field” (Barnes 139). To be an animal means you only have to think about yourself. He could be his true self and live day to day, not worrying about his future or past. However, as he continues the story it becomes clear that he is incapable of thinking like a beast. He ends up in a church crying and realizes he can’t escape from his past, since he is a product of it, and thus can’t fully embrace himself either. This idea is seen again in the last chapter, where Robin begins to act like a dog and faces down a stray at a church. This moment was predicted by the Doctor earlier when he says, “…but though those two are buried at opposite ends of the earth, one dog will find them both” (Barnes 113). While this further connects the Doctor and Robin, the last scene in the book emphasizes how Robin has done what the Doctor could not, she has become a beast. She has been constantly running from her past and looking to change her fate, which is why her past is never described to us and is why she is able to stop thinking and become a beast. She can be her true self and doesn’t have to hide behind a façade like the Doctor does. Even the location where this moment occurs parallels each other. The Doctor comes to this realization at a church, as does Robin. The Doctor rejects being a beast and realizes he is chained down by his past. Whereas, Robin accepts being a beast so that she can be innocent of her wrongdoings and finally be free of her past.
The Doctor and Robin’s dynamic is also seen with how they view children. While their views differ, they are both described as children by Nora. The Doctor is very fond of children and wishes he could have children himself. In contrast, Robin has a child yet abandons him. Where the Doctor loves children and values their innocence, Robin rejects them because they show her everything she can no longer have but strives for, innocence. She also abandons them because a child represents attachment and a future, which Robin dislikes, because then she has no control. The Doctor wants that stability, but can’t have it, while Robin has had it, but throws it away.
Their relationship boils down to the fact that Robin is what the Doctor fails to be because while the Doctor lives in the night, Robin is the night. The Doctor looks to the night as a way to express himself, but can only go so far, while Robin is the night, thus, doing what he cannot. That is why he understands her the best, but also dislikes her, and why in the end she is able to whittle him away.
Barnes, Djuna. Nightwood. New Directions, 1937.