I guess I’ll take another whack at this bear thing. In my previous post, I connected the bear to the fingerling, thinking that their methods of destruction were similar. In class, Julianne put forth the interesting idea that the bear was the husband, but I think in light of this last section we can probably agree that isn’t the case. However, I don’t that theory is completely wrong. We learn in this section that the wife took the bear’s cub and made it in to her own child (sort of the same idea as a changeling?) We also learn that the bear’s voice has magical abilities much like the wife, and that the wife hurt the bear in the process of stealing her cub. While at first it may seem that the bear represents the wife because they have so many similarities and connections, I think the bear may be more linked to the marriage between the husband and wife. I think the way in which the wife hurts the bear can be likened to the way in which she hurt their marriage by stealing the cub and claiming the child was their own (I’m not saying, however, that the destruction of their marriage rests solely on the wife’s shoulders). It can also be argued that the bear’s decaying health is similar to the decaying health of the marriage, and that every time the husband finds a piece of the bear’s fur somewhere in the forest, it represents a failing of their marriage. “And the bear? It too worsened with the days, so that everywhere I went in the woods I found its fallen fur, the marks where it scraped it free of its itching skin, against boulder and branch and now bark-bare trunk.” I also think a connection can be drawn between the husband only killing things that aren’t the bear, and how he still clings to their marriage, or something along those lines. It also should be mentioned that the husband phrases everything in very accusatory tones, not recognizing his own role in the failure of their marriage. This is particularly evident in the last part of this section when he says “And in this room: How my wife made the bear weak. How she lay flat upon the dirt floor of our cellar, and put her cheek upon the ground. How she whispered songs into the earth, how with those songs’ reverberations she lulled the bear to sleep even as she kept her sleep restless, to delay her rival’s tracking, her waking attempts to move upon the dirt. How the wounds my wife had given the bear worsened, how the bone snapped free of the rib meat, of the fleshy parts of the neck” (103). It’s possible that here he is talking about the way his wife tried to hide the fact that she had lost their last baby, had stolen the bear cub, and in the end the “bone” of the marriage snapped.


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