The relationship between Lou and Canadian`s literature as well as her relationship with the Bear essay

Therelationship between Lou and Canadian’s literature as well as herrelationship with the Bear

Therelationship between Lou and Canadian’s Literature as well as herrelationship with the Bear

Canadianliterature covers the important social, economic and political issuesthat influence the Canadian society. The literary works of Canadianauthors are affected by the various systems in the Canadian culture.Originally, the dominant cultures of Canada were French and Britishin addition to the aboriginal (Betts, 2013). Canada is amulticultural society i.e. the cultural and ethical diversity ofCanada is reflected in most of their literature. According to criticsargue that the Canadian literature is sociologically oriented. Mostof the themes are used to reflect Canadian society nature, cultureand the position of Canada in the world. The authors use variousstyles in their work to facilitate their objectives. Despite thevarying styles employed, these authors have developed several themesthat are similar with other Canadian literature. The themes evidentin various literature focuses are nationalistic and regional themes.The themes of literature of Canada have mainly been influenced byinternational immigration. This paper focuses on the themes that areevident in the Marian Engel’s novel, Bear.The novel is compared with other Canadian literature. The paperdiscusses how the authors have used the themes in their work.

Someof the common themes in most of the Canadian literature includefailure, humor, mild Anti-Americanism, multiculturalism, human versusnature, tension, satire and irony, self-deprecation, search for one’sself-Identity, the loser hero, urban versus rural and SouthernOntario Gothic among others (Keith, 2006). The theme of the searchfor one’s identity is common in most of the Canadian literature. Inaddition to this, some of the novels’ stories revolve aroundsituations whereby the authors try to justify their identities andexistence. A perfect example of such kind of literature is FifthBusiness,authored by Robertson Davies where protagonist Dunstan Ramsay is insearch of a new identity by leaving his original city of Deptford.One of the notable books in the Canadian literature is the novel,Bear,authored by Marian Engel. The book was published in 1976 (Keith,2006). It is the fifth book that Engel has written and by far, themost famous piece of art. The novel narrates how a lonely librarianin Northern Ontario engages in a sexual relationship with a bear. Thenovel has the most controversial story that has ever been written inCanada. Thus, this paper analyses, the relationship between Lou andCanadian’s literature as well as her relationship with the bear.

Thesetting of the story takes place in the Algoma district in thenorthern part of Ontario. The area is heavily wooded and with amixture of deciduous and conifer trees forests. The biggest part ofthe story occurs in an old, octagonal house, located on a smallisland on a very remote lake (Engel, 2009). Cary’s island, which isthe location of the story is fictitious and is located in thenorthern part of Highway 17, after the &quotFisher`s Falls&quot andclose to the Brody village. Outside the house, there are manybuildings including a shed that accommodates an enormous semi-tamebear. The narrative is centered on Lou, who is aged 27 years (Engel,2009). She is a librarian whose primary duty is to catalogue thelibrary and the house of Colonel Cary that has been donated to theHeritage Institute, her employer. To escape the monotonous andunsatisfactory Toronto life, Lou enjoys the opportunity of working inCary`s Island solitude (Engel, 2009). In her new work, she has tostudy and catalog the library. Her work is not easy Lou has tostruggle with the balance of emotions and work. She sluggishly startsto approach the bear’s residence that used to be a pet of the lateColonel on the island. Due to her loneliness and isolation, Lou findsherself in a casual sexual relationship with Homer Campbell, who isthe caretaker of the estate. Within a short period, she becomes toocloser to the bear with the help of Lucy Leroy, who is the seniorFirst Nations woman. Lucy offers Lou advice on how to socialize withthe animal increasing its confidence in her (Engel, 2009). Whiledoing her investigation and deep research in the library, she comesacross bear folklore and findings that had been collected by the lateColonel. After going through the various studies, she becomesconfident in the way she should handle the animal, and this leads tothe increased understanding of the life of the bear and how she canbetter relate to the animal (Engel, 2009). After going through thestudies for a while and practicing her relationship with the bear,her relationship with the bear graduates into an intimate one as wellas spiritual. At the end of the story, she is scratched deeply at theback by the bear, and this ruins her relationship with the animal. Asa result, Lou leaves the island with a focus on her renewal.

Inthe early setting of the novel, Lou begins to be intrigued by thebear. Lou’s quest to learn more about the bear makes her discoverpieces of information that had been left by the late Colonel. Inthese pieces, she discovered interesting scientific information aboutthe lives of the bears and folklore about how different communitiesadored and worshiped them. Lou was keen to establish an intimaterelationship with the bear. Lucky for her, she had a Native Americanin that island who knew more about how someone can bond with thebear. The Native American advice Lou to take a poo near the bear andit will have or develop an interest in her too. Lou takes a pool andsurprising the bear develops an interest in her, from there the restis history.

Itdid not take too long for the two’s relationship to soar tounimaginable heights. The relationship graduated from evening walksand lake swims to the deep intimate relationship the two startedspending nights together, and the bear could lick Lou’s vagina toan extent she had orgasms( Engel, 2009). The relationship did comewith its baggage of surprises, Lou though happy with the bear,notices that it did not get an erection or expose its penis to her.Things get more intriguing when Lou requests the bear to tear herhead off. Lou’s sexual intense feelings drove her to a point thatshe needed the bears to assault her not with intentions to be hurtbut have intercourse in a manner she would feel pulverized. She feltit was necessary that the bear would do that to her as the sexexperience would quench her thirst and the hurt of long for such anexperience.

ThemesShared by Lou and Canadian Literature


Thenovel, Bear,is considered as one of the most romantic novels in existence. Amongall the themes in the novel, romance most pronounced one. Engelprovides only a few of Lou’s romantic history, authored in such anoblique way, to the extent that we know it to be told from theperspective of Lou. Engel describes various scenes of romance. In oneof the fascinating scenes Lou acknowledges her love for the bear. Louis afraid of the bear and weak for danger. The author describes howLou caresses the bear “she took his thick fur that skidded in herhands, trying to get grip if his lose hide, but when she went deeperinto it she encountered further depth, her short nails slipped.”They caress each other and even engage in sexual intercourse. Thetheme of romance is also evident in the Keffer’s short storyDream:Storm:Dogswhere he describes the romance a husband and his wife. The coupleexperienced matrimonial crisis and romantic reunion (Nischik, R. M.2007). The experiences that Leah and her husband had during herforty-fifth wedding anniversary in Venice resemble that which Lou hadwith the Bear.

Conflictbetween Nature and Human Personality

Oneof the relations between Lou and Canadian literature is the conflictbetween personality and nature. In the novel, Lou seems to beisolated from the very nature where she lives. She is an introvert,and that is why she spends most of her time on the library studyingbooks and documenting about the new building. Even though the land isfull of many animals and people, Lou seems to be in a world of herown, and her relationship with fellow human beings seems to bechallenging. She had so many sexual relationships with other people,which didn`t work for her. For example, at some point, Lou enteredinto a sexual relationship with managers in her previous places ofwork, but still this seemed not to work. For example, due to herloneliness and isolation, she finds herself in a casual sexualrelationship with Homer Campbell, who is the caretaker of the estate(, 2014). The relationship seems not to work, and Louquits it to enjoy her loneliness. She lives in solitude, and sheappears to enjoy this kind of life.

Even though the area around the island has many bears, Lou seems tohave very little or no knowledge at all concerning the lives of thebears and their relationship with human beings. She is isolated fromthe same environment that she lives. To get accustomed to the livesof the bears, Lou has to study deeper to understand the lives ofthese animals and their relationship with human beings and how theyare handled. Her life seems funny and one that is completely inisolation with the same environment where she lives. For this reason,she has to study everything that appears to be new to her instead oftaking the time to learn from other people.

Lonelinessand Solitude

Mostof the Canadian folklore is about the theme of solitude andloneliness, what we learn from Lou’s life. It shows how people havebeen isolated from the same nature that they live in. Also, the themeindicates that people do not understand their environment and whatneeds to be done. It is mainly evident because of the nature of workpeople are involved in the current world. With economic growth andindustrialization, the nature of work has changed which leads tolonger working hours. The long working hours make people keep most ofthe time on their own, and this leads to isolation of individualsfrom the same nature where they live. Thus, it makes many people notaware of the kind of things that take place around them. In additionto this, the increasing level of solitude and loneliness means thatpeople lose interest in interacting with fellow human beings. It isvery evident in the life of Lou she has been lonely, and in solitudefor long, that she finds no more pleasure living with human beings.Her relationship with wild animals seems to be very satisfyingcompared to the relationship with her fellow individuals. Because ofthis, she allows the wild bear to engage in sexual relations with her(Janoušková, 2011).It seems to be more satisfying than therelationship between her and Homer Campbell, her fellow human being.

Thenovel ACanadian Upbringingby Norman Levine also presents the theme of solitude and loneliness.In the novel, an expatriate writer Marsden leaves his home countryCanada to fulfill his literary ambitions. Marsden was so obsessedwith achieving his desires in literature, which he thought would beeasier when he left his Canada. Levine who is a young aspiring writerdecides to follow the steps of Marsden by leaving Ottawa to stay inMontreal. Levine was brought up in a small Jewish community inCanada. Lou who stays far away from her fellow human beings seekslove and comfort from a bear, a stranger. Both Lou and Marsden findits comfortable living among strangers whose ways of life are muchdifferent from their own. Their relationship with strangers isstronger than that they have with the people they know. The life ofan individual is more close to complete when they are home since theyhave adapted to the various processes in their environment. Itnormally takes some time to adapt to a new environment that hasnearly all things different. Both characters from the two novels tooksome time before finding a companion. The narrator, Levine, becomesdisappointed when realized that Marsden lost interest in writing andinstead started making toy roundabouts for children. The strangeenvironment did however allow Marsden to achieve his literaryambitions. Levine considers Marsden dislocated and detached andadvises him to return to Canada while there is time to establishhimself in his country. Therefore, the environment in Europe was notfavorable enough to enable Marsden to achieve his literary ambitionsbut instead suppressed its realization. Loneliness and solitude, asdepicted from Bearand ACanadian Upbringing,reduces the chances of an individual to perform certain tasks. Thelife of Human beings is complete where they are adapted and able torespond effectively to various circumstances (Nischik, R. M. 2007).


Anothercharacteristic of the Canadian literature that is evident in the Bearispushing of sexuality far above the socially accepted levels. The lovescenes of Lou with the bear do encompass not only her fondling of thesexual organs of the animal but also include various graphicallydescribed instances whereby the bear licks her sexual organs hencebringing her to orgasm (Turcotte, 1995). Even though Lou uses theburdened countenance of having the curse to avoid having intercoursewith Homer, she seems to be delighted when the bear is licking hergenitals commenting that “her menstrual fever made him moreassiduous” (Turcotte, 1995). In various Canadian literature works,sexuality is praised in a way different from what happens within thesociety. Like most of the communities around the globe, sexuality isviewed as sacred, and any story surrounding it is narrated with a lotof carefulness and maturity, but this is very different from whathappens in the written genre (Turcotte, 1995). In various novels,authors have elaborated the issues beyond what takes place inreality. The bear is a good example of the novels that surround theissues of sexuality. In this story, the relationship between Lou andthe bear seems to be satisfying than the relationships she has everhad with fellow human beings. In one view, the author seems tosupport this relationship because Lou appears to be satisfied andcontented and seems to see the bear as the best partner ever. Forexample, she allows the bear to lick her vagina and even have sexualintercourse with the animal (Engel, 2009). Considering the ugly looksof the beast, the smell that comes from it among other factors, it isvery clear that the relationship between the animal and human beingsin this case of Lou is a mockery. Homer Campbell, her former partner,is far better than the bear and therefore this relationship is agreat satire on the Canadian society. Even though there have beenmany cases of relationships between animals and human beings, it isnot pronounced as it is brought up in this case.


Self-discovery is another theme that is explored by many authors inCanada. The Bearis not an exception either because it is more of Lou’sself-discovery. In the big part of her life, she has never known whoshe is, and that is why her love life is tainted. Lou has tried tolove but in vain and her relationship with the bear helps her todiscover who she is (Engel, 2009). Also, it is through therelationship with the bear that she realizes what is happening withinher head and who she is. In that sense, it is a typical Canadianbook. The book seeks to raise the question of where the Canadians goto find out whom they are and what matters to them. In most cases,the Canadians go to the wilderness because from here they get peaceof mind that makes them think beyond their problems and hence realizewhat is happening in their life.

Canada is made up of vast wildness, whereby in most cases, theCanadians take their time to visit and to relieve off their pains anddiscover whom they are. With the increased activities of life, it iseasy for people to go on with life without the precise knowledge ofwhom they are and what they can do to improve their lives. Also, itis also possible for people to fail to discover their inherentcapabilities if they stay in the completely busy environment. Forthis reason, most of the Canadians take their time and visit thewildness to relax their minds hence get time to meditate and realizewhom they are and what they need in their lives. Living in thewildness made Lou understand what she yearned for in life and whatcould fulfill her life. For example, she realized that she neededsomeone who would be close to her all times and who would offercomplete love to her. The bear was there whenever she wanted it, andthat is why the relationship between the two grew to be strong. Thebear was not busy like the fellow human being and was ready foroffering her intercourse whenever she wanted it. She realizes thatthis is what she lacks in her life. She also came to realize that herlife lacked company with someone who would be there, regardless ofthe time of the day and the context. Even though the relationshipbetween her and the bear does not end well, she gets the portion ofwhat she misses in life and what can fill her life.


Anotherrelationship of Lou and Canadian literature is that most of thenarratives do not end in a good mood. Most of the stories end whenthe situation is not pleasing which raises the readers’ curiositywanting to know about the fate of the characters. The Bearisnot an exception because, like most of the literature, it does notend well. Towards the end of the story, she is scratched deeply atthe back by the bear, and this ruins her relationship with theanimal. As a result, she leaves the island with a focus on renewal.The relationship between the animal and Lou was admirable until whenthe animal scratches her on the back. Even though the situation ispainful, it helps her come to her senses and realize what she lacksin life and what she needs to pursue.

Ruralversus Urban

Ruralversus urban is another theme in most of the Canadian literature.Most of the Canadian literature tries to show the difference ofliving in both rural and urban areas. The Bearisnot an exception, because it demonstrates the difference between theencounter of people in the different context both in urban and ruralareas. Lou takes flight from Toronto to an archive that is located inan isolated island castle in rural Northern Ontario, whereby thechange of the seasons leads to her personal growth. Within the city,the weather varies between domineeringly chilly and harshly humid,posing difficulties to her personal development (Engel, 2009). Inurban areas, her relationship with wild animals is difficult andalmost impossible because it is very rare to come across a wildanimal. In the island, she cultivates a relationship that grows. Eventhough the bear is a feral, dirty, and untamed creature, this doesnot hinder her from romancing with the animal. At some point, shetries to wriggle into an old smoky ball gown that is followed byflopping up of her breasts out of it, as if her new and enthusiasticsexuality is uncontained. In the isolated island, she learns manythings, which would have been difficult, while in the urban area. Forexample, she learns to relate to animals and even live for longwithout interactions with other humans. Also, she learns toappreciate her relationship with other people. For example, eventhough she was in deep love with the bear, the relationship does notend well, and all the enjoyment is ruined. Towards the end of thenovel, the bear scratches her deeply in the back, and this makes herrealize that the best relationships can only be between her andfellow human beings. The bear is a senseless animal unlike people,and this is the reason it does appreciate the good life they have hadtogether.

Satireor Irony and Humor

Likemost of the Canadian literature genres, the Bearcontains a lot of satire. Most of the Canadian literature has mockerythat helps in emphasizing and comparing situations. In the Bear,the irony is evident when Lou seems to enjoy her relationship withthe bear more than with fellow human beings. The act of having sexwith animals is a satiric ending of all the themes, and it is a realphysical relationship with nature, with the wilds intruding theperimeter of the Canadian consciousness. The book is comical,humorous, and ironic in instances when the bear waddles off fartingafter intercourse, hence seeming more like a human being that heappeared in the first instances. In these cases, the author wantsreaders to laugh. Another point that is comical is when the writerdescribes the talented tongue of the Bear and its flaccid penis thatsnuggled inside “his long cartilaginous sheath” (Engel, 2009).Having sex with an animal is unimaginable in Canada, and therefore,when Lou is having sex with the bear, this seems to be ironical.


Furthermore,feminism is another theme that is evident in the bear like in mostCanadian literature. The Bearisa form of the climax of the second movement feminist narrative. Thebook shows how women have continued to be taken for granted and usedas sexual objects for the fulfillment of sexual needs. In theCanadian society, women are not independent, and most of them dependon men who in return mistreat them and use them for sexual pleasures.Most of the Canadian literature has continued to condemn thisproblem, but the issue seems to be far from the end. In this novel,the boss mishandles Lou. He views her as a sexual object. Heregularly engages in sex with her in his office, and this has madeher have a very negative attitude with men. The men seem to misuseher without offering her the much attention that she craves. This isthe reason why she seems to enjoy the romantic relationship with thebear. The bear provided Lou with the companion that she needed, andthat is why she is in a deep relationship with the animal compared toHomer Campbell, the caretaker of the estate.


TheCanadian literature has provided a good picture of the Canadiansociety through various themes. The Canadian authors have tactfullyemployed various themes throughout their literary works. Nearly allthe Canadian literary works have presented various themes indifferent ways but passing the same information. Social issues suchas conflict in marriage, feminism, relationships and sexuality aredepicted in Marian’s Bear.Marian illustrates how gender discrimination is rooted in theCanadian society and the need to change such mentalities. Shesuccessfully shows the misconceptions about women i.e. women aresexual objects that men can do anything with. Another misconceptionis that when are weak beings who cannot survive on their own andinstead must have the support of a man. The book is very comical,especially in various instances when the animal seems to act betterthan human beings do. A good example is when the bear waffles after afart. It is expected of people and not animals, and therefore, theact of the bear is highly comical and a point that leaves all theaudience laughing. It is the nature of many animals to leave theirwaste anyhow and therefore it is very surprising to see the bearwaffle after a fart. Based on the literature, the Canadian societieshave distorted values and loss of human dignity where animals act ashuman beings and sometimes, even are much better than human beings.All the themes successfully engage the readers of the Canadianliterature. For example, the themes of satire, suspense and humorcontained in the Bearengage readers effectively.

Manyof the Canadian literature have tried to show the distinction ofliving in urban and local areas. Lou found staying in the wildernessvery distinct for her original residence, Ontario, which was an urbansetting. Loneliness and detachment from home is a factor isassociated with theme of solitude and loneliness. The Canadianauthors have shown that the relationship that human have with animalsis stronger than the relationship they have with their fellow humanbeings. The relationship depicted by Marian Engel goes to the extentof human beings offering themselves to animals the same way as theydo with fellow human beings. Living far from home alienates anindividual from his usual character and ambitions. Most of theCanadian literature has covered romance as one of the key themes. Thenovels have illustrated several romantic experiences that humanbeings. According to most of the Canadian literature, it is evidentthat various circumstances in people’s life determine theachievement of their ambitions. The achievement of our desire isdetermined by the decisions we make in life. Sometimes the outcome isnot according to our plans and if we fail to achieve our plans, weneed to reestablish ourselves. Home is always the best place toachieve our dreams. Marsden travels to Europe thinking that it willenable him achieve his literary ambitions but however, diverts tomanufacturing roundabouts for children.

Economicactivities are among the factors that have led to the alienation ofhuman beings from their natural setting. The search for economicstability in the society has led to migration of individuals todifferent places where there are employment opportunities. While awayfrom home, individuals are detached and feel dislocated. They arevulnerable at such conditions because they are willing to acceptwhatever cost to get companion. Human beings cannot live in solitudebut instead need a companion to give them necessary support. Thesociety consist of various integrated issues that affect decisionmaking and the fate of human beings.


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