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The Bear book cover
THE BEAR was published in 1942 as an episode within GO DOWN, MOSES, AND OTHER STORIES, later changed to GO DOWN, MOSES.

by William Faulkner

On the last day of hunting season, the hunting party and dog Lion hold Old Ben at bay.

In camp that night—they had as guests five of the still terrified strangers in new hunting coats and boots who had been lost all day until Sam Fathers went out and got them—he heard the rest of it: how Lion had stopped and held the bear again but only the one-eyed mule which did not mind the smell of blood would approach and Boon was riding the mule and Boon had never been known to hit anything. He shot at the bear five times with his pump gun, touching nothing, and Old Ben killed another hound and broke free once more and reached the river and was gone. Again Boon and Lion hunted as far down one bank as they dared. Too far; they crossed in the first of dusk and dark overtook them within a mile. And this time Lion found the broken trail, the blood perhaps, in the darkness where Old Ben had come up out of the water, but Boon had him on a rope, luckily, and he got down from the mule and fought Lion hand-to-hand until he got him back to camp. This time Boon didn't even curse. He stood in the door, muddy, spent, his huge gargoyle's face tragic and still amazed. "I missed him," he said. "I was in twenty-five feet of him and I missed him five times."

Excerpt from "The Big Bear of Arkansas". "Well, stranger, the first fair chase I ever had with that big critter, I saw him no less than three distinct times at a distance: the dogs run him over eighteen miles and broke down." more
William Faulkner
Experts in Agee Films' PROPHETS & POETS: THE HISTORY OF MODERN SOUTHERN LITERATURE discuss Faulkner's later career, the publication of INTRUDER IN THE DUST and the issue of race. more
image essay
Mississippi images Faulkner's literary essay, Mississippi
The American Novel