Autumn 1951 • Vol. XIII No. 4 NonfictionOctober 1, 1951 |

The Hero in the New World: William Faulkner’s “The Bear”¹

If, as several of Faulkner's most enlightened observers have suggested, the novels and stories preceding Go Down Moses possess an atmosphere like that of the Old Testament, then The Bear may be regarded as Faulkner's first sustained venture towards the more hopeful and liberated world after the Incarnation. It is also of course a story about the South in the 1880's, when the frontier was rapidly disappearing. And it is another American bildungsroman, another tale of a boy growing up in America, with all the special obstacles to moral maturity which our culture has erected and which comprise the drama for many another sad or lucky protagonist of fiction. We must not forget that The Bear is grounded in these historic and locally traditional elements. But we should say at the outset that in it we meet Faulkner's first full-fledged hero—and that he is a young man who quite deliberately takes up carpentering because if the Nazarene had found carpentering good for the life and ends

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