In "The Bear," what distinctions does Faulkner seem to draw between cowardice and true bravery?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Bear" Faulkner delineates the line that divides the antithetical traits of bravery and cowardice.  Bravery he associates with being scared while cowardice he associates with being afraid. Faulkner acknowledges that a person may not be able to avoid being scared, which he recognizes as an emotion: "Be scared. You can't help that." He then admonishes against being afraid, which, unlike being scared, is a psychological state: "But don't be afraid...."

Psychological states are a combination of cognition, memory, motive, and emotion. In psychological states, emotions are connected to recollections, to rationalizing processes, to real motives and suggested motives, and to cognitive processes, creating states of mind that have the power to enhance or cripple action and perception.

Faulkner further suggests that cowardice is something to be feared in its own right, not as a power but as a danger. Faulkner writes that even animals have to fear a coward and therefore will attack humans whom it senses are cowards. More importantly, Faulkner says that a brave person must fear a coward in the same way as an animal does. The line that is delineated between the brave person and the coward is therefore the psychological state of being afraid.