The Loss of the Creature by Walker Percy

The Loss of the Creature by Walker Percy

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Congratulations on being admitted to State College! I am glad that you have made your decision to come here. State College has numerous great opportunities to offer its students. You also told me that you are enrolled in English Composition 101. One of the pieces of literature you will encounter in this class will be "The Loss of the Creature", by Walker Percy. For your preparation to the class I can summarize and give you my explanation of "The Loss of the Creature". Throughout the essay Percy tries to get across how any person with expectations or "packages" will not be able to fully accept and learn from any experience.
"The Loss of the Creature" starts off with the definition of beautiful, which is a key point throughout his essay. Next, he moves in to his example of a family of tourists, and their experience (through his eyes) at the Grand Canyon. He describes his theory of the sightseer, and the discoverer; "Does a single sightseer, receive the value of P, or only a millionth part of value P" (pg 1) Value P, being the experience, and the beauty in which that person collected. Following the sightseers was a couple who stumbled upon an undisturbed Mexican Village. The couple thoroughly enjoyed their first experience, but could not wait to return with their friend the ethnologist. When they did return with him, they were so caught up in what his reaction would be; there was a total loss of sovereignty. Due to their differences of interest in the village, the couples return trip was a waste. The second part of the essay includes a Falkland Islander who comes across a dead dogfish lying on the beach. Furthermore, he explains how a student with a Shakespeare sonnet, has no chance of being absorbed by a student due to the surrounding's or package of the class room. The two students are receiving the wrong messages, on one hand we have the biology student with his "magic wand" of a scalpel, and on the other hand the English student with his sonnet in its "many-tissued package". Both students are unaware of the real experience they could undergo, and the teacher might as well give the dogfish to the English student and the sonnet to the biology student because they will be able to explore and learn more within the different setting, and without the surroundings and expectations (pg 6).

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As you read "The Loss of the Creature" several times, you will find it easier to explain and interpret. All the experiences are lost because the packaging hides the real treasure. The tourist family at the Grand Canyon buys a package, go and see it, and return to their lives like nothing has changed. This is due to the package, they are given something, and they take it just the way it is, no questions asked. They are so caught up in following the time frame that they overlook the whole experience. This is also true for the couple and their ethnologist friend in the village. They want their friend to enjoy and validate their experience so much, that all they do is watch him. Here there is a loss of sovereignty because they are unable to truly live through the village through their own eyes; they think that they need an expert to authenticate their trip for them. This all directly relating back to how it we think that we need it to be confirmed that we have a good time, other than the feeling of that. During the second part Percy talks about a Faulkner islander, who comes across a dead dogfish and starts to poke at it with a jackknife.
A student is also mentioned, but the student has a pre-packaged deal. So who has the better opportunity to learn, the islander with his jackknife, or the student and his magic wand of a scalpel? Thus the biology student has no chance of truly learning anything from the dogfish. The student, sitting in a classroom with all of his utensils, and the smell of formaldehyde, will have no better chance of understanding or exploring the dogfish than a student reading a Shakespeare sonnet. And one might as well give the sonnet to the biology student and the dogfish to the English student. Both students were put into packages environments, to analyze something and then answer the questions on a worksheet, maybe take a test on it and then never have to use it again. They are missing the whole meaning of the lesson because of their structured environments. Finally we can see that the "creature" here is innocence, or undisturbed learning, because through self discovery of something you can learn and inhale all of its knowledge.
In conclusion we are still left with questions about his writing and the theory in general. Such as can we still truly see the beauty, due to our minds already being filled with the media portrayal? Well I hope my information is help to you and you will better be able to understand Walker Percy's "The Loss of the Creature".
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