I have to say, my first reaction at the end of Stickeen was relief because for some odd reason I was convinced that Stickeen was going to die, or get in some traumatic accident. I’m not sure if that simply stemmed from the title being “Stickeen” as, as commemorated a long lost friend. But I guess, at its essense, that’s exactly what Muir’s narrative does. We have talked a lot in class about how to define ‘adventure’. (actually we haven’t really discussed it much but we have talked about how we are going to talk about it quite a few times) Stickeen seemed to me almost more like an ideal adventure TV show for outdoorsy children. But looking at the text objectively, there is no reason why this is not just as much an adventure as all the other texts we have read. Muir, solo aside from the beloved dog, gets in a near-death predicament, where one misstep could easily have led to his death and Stickeen’s either death or abandonment. So I tried to figure out why this text struck a different chord for me.
I came to the conclusion that it was simply because of the truthful fantasy of a dog as “man’s best friend” since I was a little child. At least for me, books with animals are just more appealing. I guess it’s because we hope to read literature in order to understand or be transported to somewhere we would not otherwise be. The idea of obtaining the unattainable becomes very real in literature. Now here is a story with a relationship, unspoken yet very clear, between man and dog that is, in effect, true. Yes, we have discussed how we cannot take each of the writers’ words literally, because for all we know they could have made the whole thing up. But still, it’s a lot more truthful that Clifford.
At the end of the narrative, Muir states, “His (Stickeen’s) fate is wrapped in mystery. Doubtless he has left this world—crossed the last crevasse—and gone to another. But he will not be forgotten. To me Stickeen is immortal.” (Muir, 7) By writing this essay, Stickeen becomes immortal to readers too. But the interesting part is that Stickeen himself, not Muir nor the Glacier, becomes the legend. He is the equivalent of the Myolangsangma In Touching My Father’s Soul, except he is tangible; readers can compare him to their own dogs. All in all, to me, this was still an adventure narrative, but it changed my view on how I would describe adventure narratives. More than any other text we have read, this seemed not to matter where it took place, in fact I had to look back to see that it was in Alaska. Overall, this just made me miss my dogs. Every time I walk in the glen I think how they would be in paradise then. I wonder, though, how would my huge German Shepherd and little Golden Retriever do on a glacier?