Tuesday, March 12, 2013
my thesis is bleeding into "Stickeen"
Nothing gets me in the zone like a canine in Alaska. That is to say, "Stickeen" shares a few key elements with my thesis, and I'm having a hard time not casting Stickeen the dog as a wolf. Muir wrote this story just a few years after Jack London, who cast a much darker, and less scientific, view of the wilds of the northwest. Muir's adventures lack the desire to civilize and conquer that London espoused, instead wandering for the sake of observation. Stickeen, his canine companion, did not need to civilized in the way that London's wolf-dogs were, but he was humanized. Animal companions in wilderness situations are important because they can be used to mirror the feelings and fears of the humans present. In "Stickeen," Stickeen serves as a foil for the relationships between the people on the trip, and his change after the danger on the glacier also reflects that changes we see in human characters after traumatic, bonding experiences.