Who Has Seen the Wind

by W. O. Mitchell

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In the novel Who Has Seen the Wind by W. O. Mitchell, what importance does Young Ben play? What does he add to the novel and why is his character so significant?

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The importance of the character Young Ben in the novel Who Has Seen the Wind revolves around his true nature. Even though he is often considered by others to be a wild young man and the son of a person with no principles (Old Ben), Young Ben is actually what literature often calls a "noble savage" touched by nature and grounded in the earth. 

In the novel, the reader will find Young Ben always preferring the prairie of the Saskatchewan over anything (or anywhere) man-made. Although the reader will recognize this as a good thing, the townspeople don't. Therefore, Young Ben also highlights the town in regards to their tendency towards the judgment of others. Young Ben's rough exterior is hard for the townspeople to look beyond.  Further, the fact that Ben has a drunk as a father doesn't help.  

Young Ben is an untamed man, self-educated only and, in fact, against all other efforts of education. True to the concept of the "noble savage," Young Ben is compassionate towards the helpless, both in the animal world and the human world. This is a characteristic he shares with the character of Brian, with whom Young Ben shares a special, silent relationship based on protection. The freedom that Young Ben achieves through nature is something that Brian can only aspire to and never achieve.

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