|The religious vision of Faulkner's
"The Bear" is considered by many critics to be a kind of animistic mysticism,
even though it invokes some references to Christianity. The following are some ways
in which that mysticism takes form:
"[T]he novice emerges from his ordeal endowed with a
totally different being from that which he possessed before his initiation; he has become another.
. . . Initiation introduces the candidate into the human community and into the
world of spiritual and cultural values . . . he learns the mystical relations between the
tribe and the Supernatural Beings as those relations were established at the beginning of
Time . . . Initiatory death is indispensable for the beginning of spiritual life.
Its function must be understood in relation to what it prepares: birth to a higher mode of
In what ways does Ike's education in hunting by Sam Fathers
represent a kind of initiation? (184, 186-87, 201, 227)
- At ten, Ike hears Old Ben.
- Two weeks later, Ike senses that Ben is looking at him.
- Ike lays aside gun, watch, and compass, and sees Old Ben alone
- At age thirteen, Ike, carrying Walter Ewell's rifle, sees Ben
from a distance.
- Ike saves the fyce from Ben (202-203).
- Old Ben escapes Lion and the other hunters.
- The next November, Lion and General Compson draw blood, but Old Ben
- At sixteen, Lion and Boon bring Old Ben down (230-231).
Is there a particular pattern in Old Ben's appearances to
Ike (and the others)? Why must Ike lay aside his gun, etc.? Are these epiphanies? (192,
Mana: "Impersonal supernatural force or
power that may be concentrated in objects or persons and that may be inherited, acquired,
Are there instances of mana in the story? If so, why
should we construe them as such? What do they suggest about the story as a whole?
Totem: the totem represents the guiding animal spirit that a
tribe or clan identifies with. It carries with a particular spiritual power that is
often regionalized. When the totem is lost, the power leaves the tribe as well as
Is Old Ben a totem? Or is he something more?
Explain. (185, 236-37)
Pride and Humility: One of the primary themes of the
hunter's code is that of the balance of pride and humility. (184, 188, 217, 223).
How is this theme present in Ike's actions? In Sam Fathers'?
Is it present in anyone else? Who does not possess one or both sides of the code?