Blow-down in Big Woods (Location Key)


This is the spot where the boy hunter sees Old Ben the bear for the second time in "The Bear" and Go Down, Moses. A dictionary defines "blowdown" as 'a tree or trees that have been blown down by the wind'; Faulkner's narrative describes the spot as a "corridor where a tornado had passed," consisting of a "tangle of trunks and branches" (291, 199). Faulkner's description of this "corridor" of natural devastation, which the bear "rushes through rather than over" (291, 199), is comparable to the earlier description of the bear's "corridor of wreckage and destruction" that started before the boy was born (281, 183). Even more striking is the way the narrative describes Old Ben moving "as a locomotive would" (291, 199) - as he had already done in the earlier passage, where the "shaggy tremendous shape" of the bear moves "with the ruthless and irresistible deliberation of a locomotive" (281, 183). We might have expected Faulkner to keep Old Ben and a train further apart, thematically: when later in the novel the logging company lays railroad tracks through the wilderness it isn't long before the world Old Ben represents is completely gone.

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