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In the story of the Bear the young boy was not allowed to join the hunt until he was ten years old. He was taught all the stories and heard all the legends of the great bear with the crooked print his entire childhood and he knew all about the great bear everyone always was talking about. As people grow older they are maturing in ways to prepare them for life and all of the hardest tasks that will be put in front of them. This boy was told many stories of the bear, some of them had extreme exaggeration, and others didn’t. All the stories he heard were to help him when his time came to face the bear.
When the boy had his first chance to go out on a hunting trip with the men the first thing Sam told him was “Be scared, you cant help that, but don’t be afraid. Ain’t nothing in the woods going to hurt you unless you corner it, or it smells that you are afraid. A bear or a deer, too, has got to be scared of a coward the same as a brave man has got to be.”(793) At the age of ten he was ready to shoot the bear, and yet he never had the chance to see it, because the bear knew the boy was a coward at the time and the bear knew he would shoot him because the boy did not yet respect him as the more experienced hunters did. The boy felt the bear and this taught him even more than he already knew about it from the stories he had been told. “He realized for he first time that the bear which had run in his listening and loomed in his dreams since before he could remember to the contrary and which, therefore, must have existed in the listening and dreams of his father and Major de Spain and even old General Compson, too, before they began to remember in their turn, was a mortal animal, and that if they had departed for the camp each November without any actual hope of bringing its trophy back, it was not because it could not be slain, but because so far they had no actual hope too.”(791) These kinds of things are what he was constantly being told and not that he felt the presence of the bear he realized that they were all true.
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When the boy had been out hunting for the bear long enough that he got frustrated from not seeing it he became upset and had to ask for help in finding the bear. Old Sam Fathers explained to him that the bear was very smart and it knew when it could be seen by the way he could tell if he was in danger. Old Sam Fathers told him “It’s the gun.”(793) He had to leave the gun behind because the bear was always watching him and it knew if it was in danger and as long as the boy had a gun it was in danger. The boy, even though he was scared, left his gun behind and went into the woods with a compass, a watch, and a stick. The boy had been walking a long time and it took him a long while but he finally realized he still wasn’t going to see it so he put down the 3 items he had and went on looking. Finally he sat down and looked at the compass and stick and watch shining, then he saw a footprint and even as he watched it was filling with water. “Then he saw the bear. It did not emerge, appear; it was just there, immobile, solid, fixed in the hot dappling of the green and windless noon, not as big as he had dreamed it, but as big as he had expected it, bigger, dimensionless against the dappled obscurity, looking at him where he sat quietly on the log and looked back at it.”(794) After this he knew for sure that the bear was much too smart to be killed.
After this encounter with the bear the boy began studying the woods and becoming a better woodsman. He was thirteen when he found the bucks bed and he knew how to go there at dawn and wait quietly for the buck to return and he shot the buck. He also killed a bear and though he finally had shot one it was not the Big Ben of the woods. “By his fourteenth year he was a better woodsman then most grown men with more (experience).” (794) He had chances to shoot the bear by this time and he hadn’t done it he had seen the bear twice when he had a gun in his hands and the second time “he could smell it, strong and hot and rank. Sprawling , he looked up to where it loomed and towered over him like a cloudburst and colored like a thunderclap.” After this the boy realized how hard it was to kill because of the amount of respect he had for the bear.
Even though everyone talked about wanting to kill it, and said how they would if they were given the chance to shoot it he realized that only a coward would be able to kill the bear. Through his years in the woods the boy became a great woodsman. After his first year he was not a great woodsman, but that is when he began to learn the tricks of the woods.