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Faulkner,Mailer,andYogi Bear RALPH MAUD When an Indian boy of the Omaha tribe was II old enough to know sorrow " he undertook a ritual which gained for him a share ill:the powers of nature and a place among the adult men using such powers for the survival of the tribe: Four days and nights the youth was to fast and pray .... No matter how hungry he became, he was forbidden to use the bow and arrows put into his hands by his father . . . . . When he fell into a sleep or a trance, if he saw or heard anything, that thing was to become a special medium through which the youth could receive supernatural aid. Byincluding this passage from Alice Fletcher's study of The Omaha Tribe in their collection of documents pertinent to William Faulkner's story "The Bear," the editors of Bear, Man, and God imply that Isaac McCaslin and the Indian boy are not far apart. It is true that, in order to gain his first glimpse of the legendary bear Old Ben, Ike must relinquish first of all his breakfast, leaving camp without waking anyone; he has to leave his gun; and then, after trekking for several hours in a sort of unanswered prayer to the wilderness, he sees that he must abandon himself altogether, and hangs his watch and compass on a bush: When he realised he was lost, he did as Sam [Fathers] had coached and drilled him: made a cast to cross his backtrack. He had not been going very fast for the last two or three hours, and he had gone even less fast since he left the compass and watch on the bush. So he went slower still now, since the tree could not be very far; in fact, he found it before he really expected to and turned and went to it. But there was no bush beneath it, no compass nor watch, so he did next as Sam had coached and drilled him: made this next circle in the opposite direction and much larger, so that the pattern of the two of them would bisect his track somewhere, but crossing no trace nor mark anywhere of his feet or any feet, and now he was going faster though still not panicked, his heart beating a little more rapidly but strong and steady enough, and this time it was not even the tree because there was a down log beside it which he had never seen before and beyond the log a little swamp, a seepage of moisture somewhere between earth and water, and he did what Sam had coached and drilled him as the next and the last, seeing as he sat down on the log the crooked print, the warped indentation in the wet ground which while he looked at it continued to fill with water until it was level full and the water began to overflow and the sides of the print began to dissolve away. Even as he looked up he saw the THE CANADIAN REVIEW OF AMERICAN STUDIES VOL. II, NO. 2, FALL 1971 next one, and, moving, the one beyond it; moving, not hurrying, running, but merely keeping pace with them as they appeared before him as though they were being shaped out of thin air just one constant pace short of where he would lose them forever and be lost forever himself, tireless, eager, without doubt or dread, panting a little above the strong rapid little hammer of his heart, emerging suddenly into a little glade; and the wilderness coalesced. It rushed, soundless, and solidified-the tree, the bush, the compass and the watch glinting where a ray of sunlight touched them. Then he saw the bear. It did not emerge,appear: it was just there,immobile,fixed in the green and windless noon's hot dappling, not as big as he had dreamed it but as big as he had expected, bigger, dimensionless against the dappled obscurity, looking at him. Then it moved. It crossed the glade without haste, walking for an instant into the sun's full glare and out of it, and stopped again and looked back at him...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 69-75
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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