What is the meaning of Terry Bisson's short story "Bears Discover Fire"?I can't find any help about this short story, and it is so hard to understand the true meanning of this story... Thank you...

What is the meaning of Terry Bisson's short story "Bears Discover Fire"?

I can't find any help about this short story, and it is so hard to understand the true meanning of this story... Thank you very much!

Asked on by hon1990

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ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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"Bears Discover Fire" is described by John Clute in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction as a story that "elegizes the land, the loss of the dream of America; it is also very funny".

"Bears Discover Fire" is a story about Uncle Bobby, a 60-year-old man concerned with his dying mother, in a world where bears have, as the title suggests, discovered fire. Fire is a symbol of what separates man from animals.  The bears of the title are mostly an afterthough in the story. They are unimportant to his life except as background curiosity, in which the truely important wonders of our world are lost in in just trying to make it fromday to day. As the bears evolve, Uncle Bobby tries to protect his mom, and accept her dying by easing her out of the world through death. At the same time he is struggling to raise his nephew, to teach him some common sense and morality. As the humans seem to be letting their civilization slip, the bears are founding a society. "Looks like bears have discovered fire," Bobby's brother Wallace drawls at the end of Bisson's story, a dry anticlimax that sums up the story's  ironies into a final, critisim of mankind's failings. Bears have discovered fire. And people have lost it.'

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