Change and the Fingerling

With our new knowledge of the bear’s origins (kind of) comes the reoccurring themes of transformation, transfiguration, and change. The bear admits to being human (202), and then the squid, from what I can gather, until finally transforming into the bear she is now. Her reason? “…among the dark shadows gathered between the world’s broad bones, there I saw that it was our children who gave us shape, as much as we shaped them, and for my coming child I became a bear, meant us both be bears forever, so that what human miseries I had known might never know him.” (204) She “escapes” humanism by transforming into an animal living in the woods, and wishes that her decision will keep negative experiences away from her child. Of course this does not really work out in her favor, although it is a human who shatters this desire of hers.

In trying to find the significance of this in relation to the narrator, I began thinking about how he was human, then lived as a bear, then as a squid, and then changed back to a human. Why does he never truly become the animals he embodies, like the bear so easily did? I think the answer is the Fingerling. Although the Fingerling seems more monstrous than human, I think the reason the narrator is transitioning between these animals and returning to a human each time is because the Fingerling is his only tie to his self as a human – and I don’t think the narrator is ready to leave his human self behind, as the bear did, and lose the chance to be reconnected to his wife, and Foundling. This choice has clearly caused much pain and suffering; exactly what the bear wanted to escape, but the narrator holds onto hope – although his wife has a good chance of being dead, the Foundling is now dead (although he continues to carry his body, which says something interesting about not letting go), his memories are corrupted, and his world is destroyed, I’m not completely sure what this hope is for.

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