The Foundling and the Elements

Something that became clear to me while reading this section was that the foundling represents (and inhabits) the four elements that are so prominent in this book (the house, the dirt, the lake, the woods). During the husband’s confrontation with the squid, we learn that the squid is the foundling’s father. “It said, what your wife cannot make, mine once refused me. It said, afterward, I tried to kill my wife as you tried to kill yours, but I could not succeed as you have…And then the squid spoke again, said, kill her for me…kill the bear, the squid said. Make fresh this world once again” (164). Here we learn that the otherworldly father that the bear spoke of previously is the squid. Once they inhabited the same form (woman turned to squid turned to bear?) and created a child together (a bear cub) that the wife then stole and turned into a human child. The foundling inhabits the elements that the husband describes in the beginning of the book-house and dirt (as a human child, or perhaps there is more distinction there, but I’m having trouble seeing it) lake (the squid as father) and woods (the bear as mother). The foundling is perhaps a failed unification of these elements, an attempt at making a whole out of the sum of it’s parts.


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