"The Bear," though it is developed with considerable complexity, can be seen as a story of coming of age.
The first part tells about Isaac's first trip, at the age of ten, with a group of older dedicated hunters into the wilderness for which Sam has been preparing him for some time. Isaac feels reborn when he enters the untamed land, and he begins to understand his smallness in relation to the vastness of the universe as represented by the wild woodland and by the bear who seems to embody the spirit of that land. In this context, he learns to see Sam as the voice of the spirit of the land. At the end of the first part, he surrenders himself to that spirit by learning to trust himself to it. This is accomplished when he abandons all his tools of hunting, defense, and navigation in order to meet old Ben face to face alone for the first time.
The second part is about the discovery of Lion, a wild dog that seems to embody the spirit of predation that is part of the wilderness, but not its essence. Though Isaac experiences the life force as central, there also is a death force that brings each individual to an end while still serving the overall processes of nature. Lion is trained to track Old Ben.
The third part covers the three years that the hunters use Lion to pursue Ben during their annual November hunting trips. In the third year, they successfully kill Ben. However, Ben is killed not by one of the regular hunters, but instead by the ne'er-do-well Boon Hogganbeck. Boon has fallen in love with Lion. When Lion grapples with Ben, the bear attempts to kill the dog. Boon...
(The entire section is 656 words.)