The Bear by William Faulkner Essay

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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…
When Old Ben dies, he is killed by Boon, whose rash and violent actions symbolize human destructiveness and desire to possess. Boon wanted to possess and tame Lion, but Lion was a beast and died in the fight with the Bear, whom Boon killed. This death is what shocked Ike into realizing how wrong it is for a human to try and possess an animal, a beast, or anything that belonged to the wilderness, including the land itself. Boon was not worthy of taking the life of Old Ben, he had not earned the right from the old woods, and this loss is felt heavily by Ike, he begins to carry the spirit of Old Ben and the wilderness with him, using its power and strength to right the wrongs man has done to the land. This is the reasoning behind Ike’s refusal to take over the plantation, he knows man cannot “own” land, it is a wild and free thing that has its own spirit, and it is the violent breaking of this spirit by ploughs and axes that led to the downfall of the South. Men there wouldn’t stop at just land, their greed and desire to possess extended to humans and the abomination of slavery, which led to bloodshed, pain, and loss in the Civil War. Ike knew he had to right these wrongs in order to earn his right to live in nature, in this world, so he renounced the red-stained land and returned dues to the wronged other half of his family in attempt to heal the land and the people he wronged. Although Ike knows he can never truly undo the