In "Hurt Hawks" and No Country for Old Men, poet Robinson Jeffers and author Cormac McCarthy's narrator describe the hawks as strong and tenacious beings. A difference, though, is that the narrator uses the symbol of the dead hawk to parallel mankind's tenacity to kill ,...
In "Hurt Hawks" and No Country for Old Men, poet Robinson Jeffers and author Cormac McCarthy's narrator describe the hawks as strong and tenacious beings. A difference, though, is that the narrator uses the symbol of the dead hawk to parallel mankind's tenacity to kill, which is a dominant theme in the book, whereas the speaker in the poem uses the injured hawk as a symbol of the prideful yet humbled.
In McCarthy's novel, Sheriff Bell notices the dead Hawk in the road shortly after he and his deputy discover the unidentified body of a murdered man in the trunk of a car. Prior to the discovery, Bell reflects on the terribleness of death and how he himself has never killed a man. Moments before seeing the hawk, he also chastises his deputy for making light of those on death row, saying, "You all don't be makin light of the dead thataway." Then, he sees the hawk. He notes how the "cold yellow eye" is staring up into the "blue vault above," meaning the sky that encases the earth, the same sky where the hawk lived freely. Finally, he reflects on how the hawks put themselves in danger by hunting on the "blacktop" of the highway, looking for any prey that crosses the highway. They will so tenaciously hunt their prey, getting "lost in the concentration of the hunter," that they will not notice any encroaching dangers, such as vehicles on the highway. In reflecting on the hawks' concentration, he is reflecting on how strong and tenacious they are. Furthermore, he moves the deceased hawk off the road so that no trucks will run over it to show just how much he values the free and tenacious spirits of hawks. The image of hawks tenaciously pursuing their prey coupled with the image of people carelessly running over hawks parallel the killing sprees found in the book and serve to develop the theme of just how frequently people tenaciously pursue murder, a truth about human nature that deeply disturbs Bell.
Similarly, in the poem, the hawk's wing has most likely been severely crushed due to human actions, such as hitting the hawk with a truck. But Jeffers' poem isn't about the tenacious hawk being killed by people who tenaciously murder. Instead, it is about a proud hawk longing for death because his injuries are keeping him from embracing the freedom he once knew. His injuries have humbled him, and now he turns to God and man for mercy. All in all, Jeffers uses his poem to paint the hawk's strong, determined, prideful, yet humble spirit as something to be emulated. In addition, similarly to the reference to the dead hawk in McCarthy's novel, Jeffers' juxtaposition of the free and noble hawk with mankind's killing abilities helps the reader see mankind's killing abilities in a very negative light.