Immortality In William Faulkner's The Bear

Good Essays
“A man has only one way of being immortal on earth: he has to forget he is a mortal”. William Faulkner, an American author, said in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech that “man is immortal”. In the context of Faulkner’s story titled The Bear immortality in that piece of work refers to man’s ability to not only survive but also triumph. So the question remains how exactly does Faulkner demonstrate man 's’ immortality in The Bear? Well, The Bear reflects Faulkner’s previous comment through its use of symbolism, metaphors, and imagery. Throughout The Bear, Old Ben serves as a symbol for nature. It is stated that shotguns and rifles failed to make Old Ben bleed “in the yearly pageant of the old bear’s furious immortality” (The Bear). Ben 's fierce…show more content…
The story begins when Isaac is ten years old and skips significant portions of his life. Isaac began the story as an inexperienced hunter, but over the years became very skilled. Eventually, at the age of twenty-one, he renounces his inheritance to the McCaslin plantation since he saw it as “cursed, and all of us who derive from it [...] lie under the curse” (The Bear). This showed that as Isaac learned more about his family history, he slowly grew to reject their use of slave labor. In effect, this meant that he renounced the land because it was worked by slaves. This demonstrated his personal resolve to be better than his ancestors by not accepting the land which showed that he respected the land, even after it was destroyed which meant that he was able to outlive the forest and avoid his ancestor’s mistakes. The final way through which Faulkner conveys man’s immortality is through the use of imagery which shows that Isaac respects nature which ties in with the idea of his renouncing his inheritance. Before ever seeing Old Ben Isaac describes Ben as “shaggy, huge,…show more content…
Given that Old Ben symbolizes nature Isaacs description shows that he just not view nature as malevolent but he does show some fear which demonstrates a level of respect. As such, by renouncing his inheritance he avoided having to repeat the errors of his ancestors, which showed that he learned from their mistakes. Imagery tended to be very descriptive when it came to nature and served to show that Isaac viewed it differently compared to everyone else in the novel. Isaac was not against conquering nature, he just disagreed with destroying it for personal benefit which is why the quote “drinking not of the blood they had spilled but some condensation of the wild immortal spirit, drinking it moderately” was so important because it shows that man will always survive because they know how to use nature. In effect, man can survive on very little so long as they have the will to continue and the imagery shows the power that they have to compete with. In conclusion, Faulkner 's comment that “man is immortal” is reflected in The Bear by having Old Ben symbolize nature, by having Isaac growth represent his triumph over his family, and through the use of imagery which demonstrated how man’s influence changed the world by showing what happened to the forest. This story is one of growth full of symbols, metaphors, and images which all contribute to the idea that man is immortal by showing that they can surpass nature. As such Faulkner
Get Access