What role do the various themes and motif serve in this passage from The Fox?
The first thing that both she and Banford did in the morning was to go out to see the fox. Henry had hung it up by the heels in the shed, with its poor brush falling backwards. It was a lovely dog-fox in its prime, with a handsome, thick, winter coat: a lovely golden-red colour, with grey as it passed to the belly, and belly all white, and a great full brush with a delicate black and grey and pure white tip.
‘Poor brute!’ said Banford. ‘If it wasn’t such a thieving wretch, you’d feel sorry for it.’
March said nothing, but stood with her foot trailing aside, one hip out; her face was pale and her eyes big and black, watching the dead animal that was suspended upside down. White and soft as snow his belly: white and soft as snow. She passed her hand softly down it. And his wonderful black-glinted brush was full and frictional, wonderful. She passed her hand down this also, and quivered. Time after time she took the full fur of that thick tail between her fingers, and passed her hand slowly downwards. Wonderful, sharp, thick, splendour of a tail. And he was dead! She pursed her lips, and her eyes went black and vacant. Then she took the head in her hand. Henry was sauntering up, so Banford walked rather pointedly away. March stood there bemused, with the head of the fox in her hand. She was wondering, wondering, wondering over his long, fine muzzle. For some reason it reminded her of a spoon or a spatula. She felt she could not understand it.
What is important about this passage is of course the symbol of the fox, and the way that March is so entranced and mesmerised by it. This relates to the symbol of the fox as it is presented during the entire novella. For March, the fox, whose eyes are refered to as being "demon" eyes, acts as a symbol of masculine energy. Let us also remember that March dreams about the fox, and it is always a dominating force that she is both attracted to and repelled by.
At this point in the novel, Henry has killed the fox, but as March discovers, this does not erase the curious fascination that it holds for her. Note the differing reactions from Banford and March. Banford does not spend much time admiring the fox, but March, by contrast, seems to spend hours looking at it as she is entranced by it and the whiteness of the belly. In addition, she loves to touch it and to feel it. In what is a very sexual novel in some ways, we can see that this passage serves to develop the symbol of the fox as representing male sexuality, and in particular the way that March is more and more attracted to it. The way in which her eyes are repeated described as "black" and "vacant" serve to emphasise the way that the fox is overpowering her, just as she is being overpowered by Henry.
this is the rest of the passage after could not under stand it...
The beast was a strange beast to her, incomprehensible, out of her range. Wonderful silver whiskers he had, like ice-threads. And pricked ears with hair inside. But that long, long, slender spoon of a nose! — and the marvellous white teeth beneath! It was to thrust forward and bite with, deep, deep, deep into the living prey, to bite and bite the blood.
‘He’s a beauty, isn’t he?’ said Henry, standing by.
‘Oh yes, he’s a fine big fox. I wonder how many chickens he’s responsible for,’ she replied.
‘A good many. Do you think he’s the same one you saw in the summer?’
‘I should think very likely he is,’ she replied.
He watched her, but he could make nothing of her. Partly she was so shy and virgin, and partly she was so grim, matter-of-fact, shrewish. What she said seemed to him so different from the look of her big, queer, dark eyes.