Monday, March 11, 2013

Man's Best Friend

The relationship between Stickeen and Muir couldn't help but remind me of the relationship between Simpson and Yates. In Muir's pairing, the nonverbal connection the two share is more overstated because one is a man and one is a dog. It was interesting to see the close bond these two shared despite the species barrier. Muir thought fondly of Stickeen and projected quite human characteristics onto him, comparing him to a little boy. Muir seems eerily akin to Simpson in the manner in which he guesses what his partner was thinking. "I can't carry you all day or feed you, and this storm will kill you." Much like Simpson in Touching the Void, Muir never shies away from the brutal facets of their adventure. He knows that there are times that may arises where one partner must forsake the other in order to survive. This connection they share is more than just friendship. It is two halves of the same conscious, that check each other when one is about to do something dangerous. "Surely, you are not going into that awful place," Stickeen says plaintively as he looks into the crevasse. Muir muses, "The danger was enough to haunt anybody, but it seems wonderful that he should have been able to weight and appreciate it so justly." He marvels at the skill of his partner, much like Simpson did with Yates.

The bond between the two is intensified because Stickeen defies Muir's initial expectations. At the beginning of the story, Muir describes him as a "little helpless creature". After assurance by his master, Muir relents and brings him along. From the onset of the journey, Muir seems critical of Stickeen, calling him a "queer character". Muir has to admit that despite the dog's idleness, he was always ready and willing to explore. He does hold doubt over the purpose of Stickeen's involvement on the trip. How much use could a little dog be? It seems that Muir thought he would be a liability and a burden. Muir was wrong. Stickeen proves himself to be poised and reliable on his exploits, being an admirable and contemplative companion that warns Muir of danger. Muir grows more fondly of Stickeen, exclaiming, "But poor Stickeen, the wee, hairy, sleekit beastie, think of him!" Muir becomes emotionally attached an empathetic toward this nonhuman character. By the end of the story he admits, "I have known many dogs, and many a story I could tell of their wisdom and devotion, but none do I owe so much as to Stickeen." This relationship between Muir and Stickeen could be the result of their tumultuous journey through the hardships of nature. Nature is cold, unforgiving and overwhelming. Despite being of different species, Man and dog fought alongside each other to survive and adventure.

No comments:

Post a Comment