The Bear

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade October 2001

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The Bear Many people have certain skills that they master, some perfect athletics; some perfect the talent of music. In the poem "The Bear" by Galway Kinnell, the character perfects the act of hunting and survival. He uses many techniques to survive, most of the poem revolves around the hunt of the bear and the use he attains from the success. However every skill that somebody has may not be for the better.

It was obvious in the poem that he was a master of hunting, he has done this many times. "In late winter I sometimes glimpse bits of steam coming up from some fault in the old snow" It proves that the seasons change and he is always ready for the change and he knows everything about the season. He also knows everything about the bear, he is even aware of the smell. "put down my nose and know the chilly, enduring odor of bear."

He is a very smart man in the sense of hunting the bear, he knows exactly what he wants to do. He sets up a trap, indeed it is a painful way to kill the bear. "I take a wolf's rib and whittle it sharp at both ends and coil it up...and place it out on the fairway of the bears." He seems like he has no cares about the bear and only considers it a way to capture the creature.

"I begin to starve, at nightfall I bend down as I knew I would at a turd sopped in blood...and gnash it down." He shows that he would do anything to survive, who would turn to eating shit just to last a couple more hours? I know most people would not stoop down to that. To be true to what you are doing, you must turn to anything and that is what he does with his knowledge and skill. People try to give it there all in certain things, and he is doing this for his survival and sport of hunting. A need that a human needs to sustain life is shelter, he knows exactly what he is going to do to achieve it. He looks at the bear after he is dead "I hack a ravine in his thigh...tear him down his whole length...and climb in and close him up after me, against the wind, and sleep" The bear has to be a safe and warm spot for him to get into if he is able to fall asleep without thinking what could be lurking in the areas near him.

The whole story of this poem changes as he falls asleep. He dreams of the reversal of positions between himself and the bear, he is no longer the hunter but the hunted. He, as the bear mistakenly eats the trap to kill him. "stabbed twice from within." He is now experiencing the pain that he has already sent the bear he is in through. It shows the long death that he goes through, it lasts for days; the excruciating pain that it puts on him. "Until one day I totter and fall." The bear tries to digest nothing but blood and bone. "digest the blood as it leaked in...and digest the bone itself." It shows how painful this death is to put onto another life form.

This dream that he has had proved a main point and a lesson to be learned. It shows that he shouldn't be doing this, even if it is what he knows how to do so well. It is hurting the bear and it is not worth doing. He experiences the birth of bears after he wakes up and it is felt strongly by him. "dam-bear lies, licking lumps of smeared fur...And one hairy soled trudge stuck out before me, the next groaned out, the next..." Seeing a cub is making him think about that once was what he is killing. He asks himself "what was that stick infusion, that rank flavor of blood, that poetry, by which I lived?" He has realized that what he has been doing has been wrong and he spends the rest of his life; wondering why did he do it? Therefore, the character in the poem shows that he knows how to hunt and survive extremely well and has perfected this skill with many methods. He goes to every extent to survive and ends up killing a bear as a way of his life. He goes through a tough lesson of seeing the miracle of life with the cubs. He realizes that he shouldn't be doing that to the animal, he spends the rest of his days thinking about it and if he used his skill in a negative aspect .