Beasts in the Jungle

“It had sprung as he didn’t guess; it had sprung as she hopelessly turned away from him, and the mark, by the time he left her, had fallen where it was to fall. He had justified his fears and achieved his fate; he had failed, with the last exactitude, she had prayed he mightn’t know. This horror of waking—this was knowledge, knowledge under the breath of which the very tears in his eyes seemed to freeze” (71)

This passage comes markedly at the end of the novella, when Marcher sees the grieving man at the grave and suddenly has an awakening. Marcher realizes, through seeing this mans grief, that he never experienced life to the fullest to understand exactly what real grief felt like. The whole text is written in a what I find to be stream of consciousness, as the sentences run-on and continue into the next thought without any pause. Looking at the very first sentence “It had sprung as he didn’t guess; it had sprung as she hopelessly turned away from him, and the mark, by the time he left her…” it bounces from one thought to another, showing how much Marchers thoughts absorb him into his failure. This realization that May is gone forever and knowing that he will never truly understand his beast, Marcher’s sense of loss has sprung up inside of him. May left a huge sense of unknowing in Marcher, leaving him to question himself once he sees the grieving man at the cemetery. Having justified his fears, meaning giving into his fear of transforming into the said Beast, Marcher feels he lived an anti-climatic life. Marcher “failed, with the last exactitude” failing to see just how much the little details of his relationship with May really affected him. Marcher knew all long, even the tiny details, pointed to his beast, and how he was really in control of his beast the entire time. Realizing this, Marcher felt the “horror of waking” or coming into this knowledge about himself too late. Marcher realizes that he was in control too much of his beast, or what I see as his sexuality. James never fully allows Marcher to explore his beast, and this repression of Marcher’s sexuality makes Marcher go insane. This is why his tears in his eyes freeze, as they come to realize that they, the tears, will never be fully capable of loving, as they have just observed from the stinger in the cemetery. James really relies on the use of stream of consciousness to carry the thoughts that Marcher has throughout the text.

James’ novella views failure as Marcher being unable to realize that he is capable love, missing his chance at being able to fully immerse himself into his relationship with May. All this time Marcher was trying to figure out how to control his beast, without ever realizing that his beast was his inability to transform his relationship with May into a romantic relationship. Marchers beast also represents his sexuality. Marcher spent his whole life, at least the life we see in the story, suppress his sexuality, hoping to find out the secret about himself that he felt May held. Marchers problem seems to be that he cannot seem to come to terms with his sexuality. Marcher  never once gives into May, and the desires she seems to carry for him. He, instead, chooses to subject himself and throw himself into finding out what beast he has living in the closet, that he cannot seem to get to come out.


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