Point of View
While ‘ ‘The Bear” is a third-person narrative, it is told from the point of view of Ike McCaslin. Yet not all that Ike knows is told. For example, neither Ike nor the narrator ever actually confirms that Boon killed Sam. McCaslin makes this assumption, and Ike, the only witness, lets his statement remain uncontested. Even more complicated are the conjectures of Ike and McCaslin about Eunice’s suicide. It is here that the narrator is demonstrated to be not omniscient (all-knowing), but a more limited, and experimental, version of the traditional third person narrator.
Set in Faulkner’s fictitious Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, “The Bear” covers different time periods during Ike McCaslin’s youth. Although the first section begins while Ike is age sixteen, most of the section covers Ike’s first hunting trips during the fall of 1877 . . . Read More
Rites of Passage
“The Bear” describes several important rites of passage for Ike McCaslin. The first rites of passage that readers encounter are the hunting rituals marking the various stages of his growth as a hunter. His first hunting trip at age ten, killing his first deer at age twelve, and other important landmarks in his hunting experience are described in the narrative. Ike is well acquainted with the normal progression of the hunter’s apprenticeship, and is able to anticipate his experiences before they occur: ‘ ‘It seemed to him that at the age of ten he was witnessing his own birth. It was not even strange to him. He had experienced it all before, and not merely in dreams.” Ike is prepared to follow the procedures of his apprenticeship: taking the worst hunting stand on his first trip; Sam marking his face and hands with blood after he kills his first deer; and the long evenings of storytelling. Camping and . . . Read More
Ash is an African-American servant to Major deSpain. He is described in womanly terms and is relegated to tending to camp. After Ike kills his first buck, Ash airs his resentment at not being allowed to hunt. When Major deSpain allows him to go out the next day, Ash shows himself to be an untrained and inept hunter.
See Hubert Beauchamp
Hubert Beauchamp is Ike’s uncle. Hubert promised Ike a silver cup full of gold coins as an inheritance; however, he gradually replaced the coins and then the cup with lOU’s. Ike rejects his own inheritance on the assumption that the gift from Uncle Hubert would be enough to live on. The worthless inheritance epitomizes the fruitless expectations of many Southern plantation families, most of whom lost their family fortunes in the Civil War.
Uncle . . . Read More
“The Bear” immediately introduces readers to numerous time periods simultaneously.’ ‘There was a man and a dog too this time,” Faulkner writes, and readers are alerted that at least two time periods are being described in the narrative. The story follows sixteen-year-old Ike McCaslin as he embarks upon his sixth year of an annual hunting trip and the experiences he undergoes during his two weeks in the hunting camp. The narrative weaves between a number of years in Ike’s life, from his first hunting trip at age ten to the current year. As Ike ages, the elements of the trip that remain constant are the men he travels with—Major de Spain (owner of the land on which they hunt), General Compson, McCaslin Edmonds, Uncle Ash, Sam Fathers, Boon Hogganbeck, and Walter Ewell—and Old Ben, the ‘ ‘big old bear with one trap-ruined foot” whom the hunters track. After this initial setting of scene, the narration returns to Ike’s . . . Read More
Truth versus Lies
One of the primary themes in Tangerine is the importance of telling the truth and living the truth as well as the consequences of lies. As star football player Antoine Thomas advises Paul toward the end of the novel, ‘‘Don’t spend your life hiding under the bleachers, little brother. The truth shall set you free.’’ Paul responds, ‘‘Yes! Yes!’’ Truths and falsehoods are important to nearly every plot in Tangerine, even secondary ones. Old Charley Burns, for example, takes bribes and does not find out the truth about the poor quality of most of the construction projects in the area. Because of Burns, a sinkhole develops that engulfs the junior high school portable classrooms. As a result, he must resign.
For Paul, the truth about what happened to make him legally blind is very important. He does not remember until the end of the novel that his older brother Erik held him down and convinced his friend Vincent Castor . . . Read More
Adam is a student at Lake Windsor Middle School. He seems close to Kerri at the carnival.
A native of the Philippines, Tommy is a student at Lake Windsor Middle School and one of the best players on its soccer team.
Ms. Alvarez is Paul’s homeroom teacher at Lake Windsor Middle School.
Arthur Bauer Jr.
A mediocre player on the high school football team, Arthur becomes Erik’s flunky. He serves as Erik’s holder for kicking, drives him everywhere in his SUV, and becomes his enforcer, as when he hits Luis Cruz on the side of the head with a blackjack. Arthur is also responsible for the actual burglaries in Paul’s housing development. At the end of the novel, he is arrested for his crimes.
Arthur Bauer Sr.
The father of Arthur and Paige, he works as a building contractor and a major in the Army . . . Read More
While often treated as a realist novel about the interior lives of its characters and their internal experiences of oppression, Ann Petry’s The Street may also be read as a powerful protest novel—one with the potential to provoke specific political and social changes for the benefit of African Americans and women. Like the other black characters in Petry’s work, the novel’s protagonist Lutie Johnson and her son Bub are victims of an institutional racism that grants privileges to Anglo Americans while denying them to African Americans. By crafting Lutie as beautifully human, while simultaneously paying close attention to the relationship that exists between physical space and freedom, Petry persuades readers that white people bear the ultimate responsibility for the fate of her characters.
To make her protest against institutional racism rhetorically compelling, Petry must successfully dispel the misguided notion that problems of the ghetto may be attributed to some . . . Read More
Rise of the Harlem Renaissance
After the abolition of slavery in 1865, the racial climate in the South became increasingly hostile toward African Americans. Lynch mobs and widespread violence posed a constant threat to the physical safety and well-being of these individuals and, as a result, many African Americans chose to migrate to northern states. Urban areas like New York City provided better access to jobs and schooling opportunities, and so they attracted the majority of the migrants. Some of these jobs were created by the American involvement in World War I, which generated a need for increased industrial production. While the Northern cities did provide increased opportunities for African Americans, racial discrimination was still ubiquitous and only certain areas of the cities, such as Harlem in New York, were available to black renters. As a result, African American communities were concentrated in densely populated neighborhoods that brought . . . Read More
Pursuit of the American Dream
While working for the Chandlers, a white family of considerable wealth, Lutie is exposed to the idea that success and financial freedom are the guaranteed outcomes of hard work and perseverance—the American Dream. Determined to transcend her impoverished circumstances in Harlem, Lutie adopts this mentality and worries about money constantly. Her son, Bub, does not understand why Lutie is so concerned about money but wants to please her, so he tries to make money too. This leads to his imprisonment when William Jones takes advantage of his desire to earn his mother’s love and tricks him into stealing letters. Unfortunately, as Ann Petry successfully demonstrates in her novel, America was not a place of equal opportunity for African Americans or women in the 1940s. Lutie faces barriers of racial and gender discrimination as she tries to make money. Ultimately, she fails to achieve her dream of winning the fight against the . . . Read More
Jonathan Chandler, also referred to as Mr. Chandler, commits suicide on Christmas Eve in front of the whole Chandler family, including live-in maid Lutie and Little Henry Chandler. Afterward, the Chandlers pay off a number of officials to make sure the incident is recorded as an accident in the public records. This episode makes Lutie realize how money shapes reality.
Little Henry Chandler
Little Henry Chandler is the young son of Mr. and Mrs. Chandler. Lutie takes care of Little Henry while she is living away from her own son of the same age. Little Henry grows attached to Lutie and is devastated when she leaves. For Lutie, his wealth and privilege represent all that she wants to give her son but cannot because she is poor and black.
Mr. and Mrs. Henry Chandler
Mr.and Mrs. Henry Chandler, parents of Little Henry Chandler, employ Lutie as a maid and nanny. Their interactions . . . Read More