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The Bear by William Faulkner Essay

Decent Essays
William Faulkner’s novella “The Bear” from his collection of works, Go Down Moses, is a symbolic exploration of the relationship between man and nature in the eyes of a young boy. The heart of the issue, the warped idea of the ownership of land, is revealed thought the clash of man and nature in a wild chase that ends only in blood and death. The prey is nature itself, represented by a bear, while the hunters are men, full of greed and destructive possessiveness, pursuing that which they do not understand. Ike’s idea of the bear, presented in section 1 of the novella, expresses the idea of symbolism in relation to the bear and to the hunters and what the battle between the two represents. The bear itself, Old Ben, is a symbol for…show more content…
Upon his first encounter with the woods, Ike is lost in wonder, it has been his dream for as long as he could remember to join the men on the hunt and explore the beauty of the big woods. What sets Ike apart from the other men, however, is his wonder of the wilderness, not just of its size, but of what mysteries it contains. When he arrives he feels the need “to earn for himself from the wilderness the name and state of hunter provided he in his term were humble and enduring enough.” (192) Ike doesn’t desire the approval of any of the other hunter, his cousin, or even his wise mentor Sam Fathers. Instead he knows that the right to claim the name of hunter lies in earning the approval “from the wilderness” and to do so he must be “humble and enduring.” (192) Those words do not seem to fit with the violent acts of the other hunters; to them the ability to shoot and kill is all that really matters, hence the disrespect for Boon and the position of Walter Ewell as a senior hunter. By using gentle words Faulkner states that there is more to “hunting” than killing, what Ike desires and seeks to prove himself worthy of is belonging to nature, to feel its beauty and strength running through him. Without this sense of approval and belonging from the woods, Ike feels he is unworthy to take the life of an animal and to use what he has gained from death to
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