‘The Bear’ by William Faulkner

William Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi in 1897.
I have not read everything William Faulkner wrote but ‘The Bear’ is the best thing that William Faulkner wrote. It’s a story of initiation and maturation. Isaac McCaslin goes bear hunting, but he’s also hunting for his family’s history. ‘The Bear’ can be read on its own, but set in the context of Go Down, Moses, it’s a richer text, illuminating the other stories in that book. For example, Go Down, Moses begins with the antic comedy, ‘Was,’ which first reads like a simple, fun yarn. However, after reading ‘The Bear,’ we see that ‘Was’ covertly describes the genesis of a grotesquely deviated family tree. If Huckleberry Finn’s decision to “light out for the Territory” typifies a particularly American evasion of domestic responsibility, Faulkner’s heroes frequently take the evasion a step further, swearing to never beget children at all. ‘The Bear’ culminates in McCaslin’s refusal to take up familial responsibility of any kind. He repudiates his inheritance; he repudiates the South.

First published as ‘Lion’ in Harper’s Magazine in December, 1935 and then as ‘The Bear’ in The Saturday Evening Post, 1942, and then included as a chapter of Go Down, Moses, Random House, 1942

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