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American Literature Book Report/Review
Pages 7 (1757 words)
I choose this poem to begin this essay because, although not directly related to our subject, it sheds light on aspects which I feel are very important to lay the ground to our analysis. The poem talks of the genius loci, or the spirit of the place. This refers to the "unique, distinctive and cherished aspects of a place" (wiki)…
This idea gains considerable depth if we think of the story Barred Owl (Offutt). This story is arguably about displaced identities and homesickness, as it revolves about two Kentuckians who get acquainted in Colorado, a place where they've found themselves transplanted to.
There, they find themselves somehow alienated and longing from the Wild from which they came; Travis has a fixation for collecting arrow ends and bird wings, so when he finds a dead Owl on the road, he asks the narrator's help to assist him in stuffing the animal, since he somewhat shamefully admits he can't even kill a fly. The narrator, after working at the dead bird claims that he had "never seen a creature so clean on the outside and so tore up on the inside", and he appears to recognize himself on the creature, or so we're hinted. Travis, who had claimed that "A barred owl getting this far west ain't right" ends up killing himself with an arrowhead he'd found. We're left to wonder upon the parallel between the bird had strayed too far from his home, and fatefully lost its way; and, in a similar manner, the Kentuckian who coveted its pelt ended up meeting and identical destiny.
This is a story that captures the complexities of the dangerous and calming side of the wild, but it's ultimately a story about how th ...
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