The Loss of Power

Throughout the novel, I have noticed a theme we haven’t touched on in class – one that I’ve yet to really be able to pull together and make sense of. The theme of the husband not having control/power over any aspect of this landscape in which he lives despite his efforts to control them, to have power over them. In the beginning, the woods and the house are the objects the husband wishes to take control of – yet his power is undone by the power of the bear in the woods and by the wife’s inability to bear a child in the house, and ultimately, her power over the foundling, and thus, the house. Throughout this early portion of the novel, the lake is the only thing respected by the husband, as he knows it is occupied by something.

When the husband is unable to gain power over the woods or the house or the lake, we continuously see him destroy everything in that realm, whereas those with the power in those realms have the ability to “sing into existence.” The husband kills all the animals of the woods besides the bear, and eventually kills his wife, and after his encounter with the squid begins eating up everything in the lake to satisfy his and the fingerling’s hunger. This brings me to the domain of the husband’s own body, which from the very beginning of the novel is at the will of the fingerling, who thus has the power of the husband’s body.

I don’t know where this takes us, but I think that it is something to keep in mind for the remainder of this book and see if this quest for power comes to a clean ending or if it is left up in the air.


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