In "The Bear," part V of William Faulkner's Go Down, Moses, how does Boon Hogganbeck behave, and what could his behavior signify?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Faulkner uses "The Bear" in Go Down, Moses to give a symbolic portrayal of man's power vs. nature's power, specifically, man's desires to control and manipulate nature. The hunter Boon Hogganbeck's actions help show both man's bond with nature plus exactly how selfish total control over nature is.

We see Hogganbeck representing a bond with nature through his relationship with the hunting dog Lion. After Lion is cruelly tamed through starvation, Hogganbeck becomes so devoted to Lion that he even sleeps with Lion. Hogganbeck's bond with Lion represents a bond with nature, but one must also take note of why Lion would even become important to Hogganbeck. It's merely because Lion possesses the potential of killing the unconquerable bear Old Ben. Hence, ultimately Hogganbeck's bond with Lion shows Hogganbeck's selfish desire to control nature. The desire to control nature is further shown in Hogganbeck's eventual brutal murder of the bear but also at the end of the story when Isaac McCaslin returns to the hunting camp and finds Hogganbeck desperately trying to fix his gun so he can shoot some squirrels. Hogganbeck's response when he sees Isaac is to savagely and selfishly yell at Isaac in a hoarse voice, "Get out of here! Don't touch them! Don't touch a one of them! They're mine!" (p. 315). Hogganbeck's desperate declaration that the squirrels were his for the killing, as if they were the only squirrels or source of food left on the planet, shows us just exactly how manipulative Hogganbeck is. He is so manipulative as to want total control over nature, even total control over the world's plentiful squirrels. However, the fact that he has failed to control the squirrels as he wants symbolically shows that man is wrong to think he can and has the right to control nature.

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