Cultural Primitivism in William Faulkner's "The Bear"

2833 words 12 pages
Cultural Primitivism in William Faulkner's "The Bear"
Author(s): Kenneth LaBudde
Source: American Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 4 (Winter, 1950), pp. 322-328
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Stable URL: .
Accessed: 11/11/2013 07:10
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Frazer testifies the reverence hunters to the bear that theykill.4Boon's killingof Old Ben by stabbingthe bear withhis knifeis therefore appropriate. customs.The
Other details in the story are allied to primitive bear is usuallyreferred as Old Ben or "he." Hallowell pointsout to that "one of the most constantand distinctive practicesassociated withbears is the customof referring speakingto the animal by or some otherterm than the genericname for it." Primitivepeople wouldaddressa bear as ifhe werea relative.They wouldmake conciliatoryspeechesto the bear askinghim to come out to be killed and begging pardonforhavingto kill it. Major de Spain, it will his be remembered, the otherhunters told whyOld Ben must be killed as if an excuse had to be given. "I'm disappointed him. He has in broken the rules. I didn't think he would have done that. He has killed mine and McCaslin's dogs, but that was all right.We gambled the dogs against him; we gave each other warning.But now he has come into my house and destroyedmy property,
ofseason too. He brokethe rules."
When one reads in Hallowell that it was a customforthe killer to cut offa paw of the


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