The Struggle In Jean Auel's Cave Bear

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Jean Auel is an amazing American author who is an inspiration to us today. Jean Auel is the slightly overweight mother of five who wrote the Earth’s Children series. She raised her family and had a career. When she first began writing the Earth Children series, she sat down at her kitchen table with a typewriter in front of her and two books beside her, and simply began typing, as all writers do. However, soon she realized she had no idea of the world she was writing. She had always been interested in these earliest people, but she wondered what did Neanderthals eat? What did they do for fun? How do they survive? How long did they live? What was their culture like? “It started as a short story…” (Auel, about) and then it grew and grew and…show more content…
Ayla changes the clan, her new family, around her in her first years, and they change her too. Normally, Clan people would never interact with the “others”(believed to be Cro Magnons). But after an earthquake kills Ayla’s parents and ruined the Clan’s home (a cave), their paths cross in a rather roundabout way that serves as the starting point for this novel. Creb is a crippled shamanistic figure in the clan, and because of his disabilities, he has never had experience dealing with children. He called his sister Iza over to look at Ayla’s eyes, because Ayla is crying. Creb had not seen this in a child (Auel, p. 48). Ayla crawled into Creb’s lap, and she cries because she thinks Creb doesn’t love her. Iza explains what she must do to become a better clan woman for him. The Clan of the Cave Bear talks about how everyone changes, both Ayla and the Clan. “Ayla, a gangly, blonde, sky-eyed child stuck with the wrong race, is the avatar for all this tumult. Auel immediately makes us aware of the lowly position of women in the Clan: Iza has to kneel before Brun, the leader-as all women do when approaching a man-to plead her case about keeping the girl. While thinking it over, he ruminates, "But medicine woman or not, she's just a woman. What difference will it make if she's upset?"(Skurnik). The book shows how everyone…show more content…
Each person in the Clan has a spirit animal, which was chosen to symbolise and protect them. Ayla’s totem spirit, for instance, is a cave lion totem, as shown with the four claw lines down her leg and was shown to the Mog-ur in a vision. The cave lion was was believed to be one of the most powerful totems (Totems, p.1). Ursus, the Great Cave Bear Creb, being the shamanistic “Mog-ur” of the clan and the clan itself, has both his born totem of a Roe Deer, and his given totem of the Great Ursus (“Totem.”). The Mog-ur could see the signs and the spirits, and his sister Iza was the medicine woman of the tribe. These totems are supposed to represent the people they protect, for instance a small child with blinking eyes and a tilting head was given the owl to protect her. The power of Ayla’s symbol, the cave lion, really made her an outsider of the clan. The symbol also was a sign that she was to be powerful. When she picked up a weapon which women were never to do, and used it to kill an animal to save a child, the Clan was shocked. As punishment for her crime, she is sent away for a month during winter. She survived her “death”, and when she returns, the clan decided to allow her to hunt with the men because her totem had always been so strong, and had been her dynasty.

The book Clan of the Cave Bear is filled with mystery, discovery, and symbols that meant something to ancient humans and means something to us today. Just as Ayla has
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