What is the "beast in the jungle"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Early in this story Marcher confides to his friend May Bartram that he has a secret he has never shared with anyone before. It is that for much of his life he has been expecting a harrowing event to occur which he thinks of a "the beast in the jungle," something totally unexpected which will change his life. Years later she tells him she knows intuitively what that event will be, but she refuses to reveal what it is. Then after she is dead he realizes "that all the while he had waited the wait was itself his portion." This insight occurs to him while he is visiting her grave. She knew that he could have escaped his fate by loving her. "...then, then he would have lived." But he had been too self-centered. "...he had been the man of his time, the man, to whom nothing on earth was to have happened."

He saw the Jungle of his life and saw the lurking Beast; then, while he looked, perceived it, as by a stir of the air, rise, huge and hideous, for the leap that was to settle him. His eyes darkened--it was close; and, instinctively turning, in his hallucination, to avoid it, he flung himself, face down, on the tomb.

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial