Kevin and the Bear

Today’s topic, “Kevin and the Bear,” was chosen by Aaron H at Westwood High School.

“Kevin and the Bear” is a short story composed by Aaron. It goes like this:

There once was a boy named Kevin. He was walking in the woods. He got eaten by a bear.

That’s the whole story. I am not sure how much there is to say about this. Then again, I am supposed to write something about this, so I’d have to write in the spirit of this:

Postmodernism in “Kevin and the Bear”

There is no dearth of meaning in “Kevin and the Bear.” The most vital factor is a touch of the postmodern movement in the third and final sentence. A line-by-line analysis is key to understanding the reference.

“There once was a boy named Kevin.”

Of all the memorable first lines that have appeared in centuries of literature, this is not one of them. But this already foreshadows the break of expectation, and the moments later in the story that convey the postmodern idea of unpredictability. Furthermore, the phrasing gives this a fairy-tale-esque tone, which is juxtaposed with a totally disparate thought.

“He was walking in the woods.”

The woods, where Goodman Brown entered only to lose Faith, where Thoreau entered to find peace, and where Kevin entered, as we shall see, to become eaten. The setting of the woods portrays once again the power of nature’s unpredictability over humanity’s attempt at control.

“He was eaten by a bear.”

The key here is the little article, “a.” The passive tense is also important to consider, as rather than portraying the bear as an active, individual force that would be associated with the phrasing “A bear ate him,” the author chooses instead to focus on the thing being eaten, emphasizing the passive aspects of human existence. This is a tenet of postmodern belief, that humans are not necessarily the great actors in this world. Indeed, by referring to the beast as simply “a bear,” the author refers to the grand scheme that nature holds, that the bear in the story is only one of many in a larger system.

Disclaimer:

No postmodernists were harmed in the making of this post.

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