On Roles & Memory

I was intrigued by the idea that the bear so often mentioned in these early chapters might serve as more than a symbol – that it might be a form that the narrator inhabits in some way. I at first felt inclined to agree, and while reading the latest chapters does not render that view absolutely wrong, it does make it infinitely more complicated. We see our narrator in the process of sewing together a suit in the bear’s likeness, made of other animals trapped and skinned for that purpose, and the means in which the trap is incorporated into its design, and then later how the bear is seen, battered and more emaciated than ever. This was of particular interest to me, as it seemed that the narrator and the bear had undergone a reversal in their positions of power; the narrator takes on a savage mindset, killing and destroying often only for the sake of doing so, while elsewhere, the bear has no other option but to suffer as a result.

And in a moment of revelation, the narrator recognizes their similarities: “…for hidden inside my own hackle of found fur was the same wearied lack, the same bones carved only brave enough…” (76) This brings us back to the notion of bones containing memories, and memories bones, the makings of which between the bear and the narrator being quite similar. Both have allegedly lost their offspring to death (“allegedly” because they have other entities: the miscarried child as the fingerling, and the bear cub as the essence of the foundling), and have sought revenge on one another to some extent as a result.

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