December 12, 2010 § Leave a comment
I’ll preface this blog with the fact that I’m kind of playing devil’s advocate and know that dolphins and chickens aren’t on the same level.
I don’t really understand why we feel compassion for certain animals but are indifferent to the suffering of others. I have always struggled with why people are so eager to defend certain animals yet have no problem with supporting the mass murder of others. When I was little I read a statistic about how dolphins and cows come from a common ancestor, something to think about. It’s surprising that people are so willing to protest the slaughter of 23,000 dolphins in a year when they gladly support industries that mercilessly kill 35 million cows in the same amount of time and 23 million chickens per day. I think that in order for humans to feel sympathy towards animals they must project human-like qualities onto those animals. In the case of dolphins intelligence (and their ever present smile) plays a huge role in why we relate to them but the source of an animal’s value doesn’t necessarily stem from our perception of their intelligence but greater influenced by factors such as cuteness. I will use the overused statistic favored by vegetarians, pigs are smarter than dogs but they aren’t quite as cute or cuddly. I’m not going to argue against the fact that dolphins are very special animals, it’s just that I think that all animals are valuable.
October 10, 2010 § 3 Comments
I remember the first time I read “Call of the Wild”. I was about 10 years old and it was part of a very extensive Jack London unit at my elementary school. Like Buck I spent my childhood in the lap of luxury. Just as “there were no other dogs” on the Miller property, I was an only child which likely contributed to my carefree upbringing (London 3). It was interesting for me to reread the book and see how my own adolescence changed my interpretation of London’s classic coming of age story.
As Buck grows and evolves as a character he learns who he really is and gets in touch with his canine nature. I really connected to Buck and drew upon my own experiences growing up when reading “Call of the Wild”. I feel that Buck’s journey shows that coming of age has less to do with age and more to do with finding your true colors.
We all begin our lives somewhat like domesticated dogs. We are shaped and trained to be what our “masters” want us to be but through time and the challenges that accompany it we begin to shape our own opinions and get in touch with our own “dominant primordial beasts”. My mother always says that challenges help to shape us into who we are. This could not be more true for Buck. Coming into oneself is a gradual and often private process. Only through attempting to overcome obstacles does Buck truly get in touch with his wild side. Under the rough conditions of his new life, Buck continues to figure out who he really is. “The dominant primordial beast was strong in Buck, and under the fierce conditions of the trail life ir grew and grew. Yet it was a secret growth”(London 15).
In addition to hardships Buck also faces new responsibilities. During his transformation Buck must bring in money for John. Having responsibilities is a trying but necessary part of learning to be an adult.
When I read “Call of the Wild” all those years ago I viewed coming of age as a mere period of time in one’s life. I feel that coming of age is a process and it has many aspects to it but a crucial part of coming of age is recognizing who you are deep down. Some of us are lucky enough to figure this out in our teens but for most coming of age (at least in this sense) does not occur until much later.
September 19, 2010 § Leave a comment
Whether the Disney film is of its own creation or an adaptation of a classic fairy tale the mother is never has a long-lasting presence. Generally the mother’s death acts as a catalyst for the protagonist to realize their “destiny” and reach maturity. Without the nurturing mother the once vulnerable character must rise to the occasion and take charge. Notice in Bambi immediately following the dark winter scene of his mother’s death is a scene of spring renewal in which Bambi is much more mature?
Mom’s are generally absent figures in Disney films but a particularly interesting aspect of Bambi was the absence of his father. While Disney was a brilliant mind, revolutionary thinker and an innovator he was never very progressive when dealing with gender roles. Bambi’s father is aloof but he acts as a source of strength and leadership that Bambi’s sweet and weak mother just provide. In his films, the mother is the caretaker and nurturer but the father is the wise one with all the important answers. Throughout the film I noticed how Thumper’s father had an absentee role. His mother would frequently say to him “Thumper, what did your father say?” Although his mother was his caretaker and his father was never featured the viewer was always reminded of the father’s position of authority and the importance of paternal influence and guidance in shaping a young boy (or girl).
When Bambi is born his father watches over from a very distance mountain ledge but is never actually involved. Throughout the story his father acts as a far-away guardian. On the meadow when Bambi’s father walks by, he briefly acknowledges Bambi by making eye contact and pausing (father of the year? I think so). He later acts as guardian to all his “people” by warning them of Man’s dangerous and unwanted presence in their peaceful home. Once Bambi’s mother is taken from him at the hands of Man, his father begins to play a more active role. He appears to Bambi in the thicket and says to him, “ your mother can’t be with you anymore”. The Great Prince is a very wise character and although he does not provide the attentive care that a young fawn would get from their mother, he does watch over his son and do his best to protect him. One must understand that The Great Prince has lived so long because of his solitude. He has been careful and remained on his own in order to stay alive. While such an absentee role is not acceptable to Man in nature it’s just the way things go. Although the presence of talking animals takes away a bit of the film’s accuracy, deer are uniparental and therefore fawns are cared for by the mother and the mother alone.
The film does a good job of creating a relationship between Bambi and his father while respecting the fact that bucks aren’t active in raising their young. At the end of the film, Bambi fills his father’s shoes as Great Prince of the Forest and watches over Feline and his twin fawns. This establishes some attachment but acknowledges that reality of the wilderness and the role of the buck in its family unit.
September 8, 2010 § Leave a comment
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