What alternative does Axel offer to an imitation of the Old People?

Expert Answers
teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hello! You asked what alternative Axel offers to an imitation of the Old People.

In the novel, when the young David decides to run away, he asks his Uncle Axel for advice on where to go. His uncle doesn't think it's a good idea to run away at all. He cautions David that he should probably wait until he is a man and can take care of himself; otherwise, he doesn't think David would get very far before he is caught and brought back. Uncle Axel promises to tell David something of the world outside of Labrador if he promises to keep it a secret.

Uncle Axel regales David with stories about the Badlands, and how it is supposed to be a place where all purity has been left behind. However, sailors who have unwittingly ventured into these parts have gossiped about things flourishing there that ought not to have a right to. Southeast of Labrador, the women are unusually tall and strong; they keep the men in cages until they are about twenty four years old before they eat them. One can't help thinking Uncle Axel is telling some tall tales here; yet, he quickly reassures David that no one has argued otherwise about the women, and no one has confirmed its truth either.

Uncle Axel goes on to talk about jungles of plants which are deviations "miles long" and he eventually touches on the Black Coasts and areas south of the Coasts. To him, the most interesting thing about these foreign parts is that everyone living there thinks their "type is the true pattern of the Old People, and anything different is a Deviation." He reasons that people have gotten their definition of the true image from Nicholson's Repentances, and not the Bible. Therefore, he questions how anyone can be sure which definition of the true image is the right one. After all, he reasons that the Old People believe that humans of the true image have the ability to speak to one another over long distances. That's basically telepathy, the skill that David and Rosalind have.

Thus, Uncle Axel's alternative is basically to accept who and what one is instead of relying on any religious leader's interpretation of what constitutes the true image.

"I'm telling you," he went on 'that a lot of people saying that a thing is so, doesn't prove it is so. I'm telling you that nobody, nobody really knows what is the true image. They all think they know..."

Thanks for the question.