Such Beastly Behavior! Predation, Revenge, and the Question of Ethics

  • Sarah E. McFarland
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)


After a woman is dragged from her tent in the night and eaten by a bear in William Kittredge’s short story “We Are Not in This Together,” Halverson, the story’s protagonist, seeks “one bear, for a head, to mount on the wall, to get things even.” But what Halverson really searches for is the moment when the bear anticipates his own death: “There had to be time for thinking, and time for the bear, for hoping the animal might dimly sense the thing happening.” Likewise when a man checks his crab pots and is pulled under by a crocodile, or a boy is attacked by a tiger, or a young surfer loses her arm to a shark: in each case, their human communities demand revenge. McFarland’s chapter explores issues that converge in the behavior of predatory nonhuman animals and vengeful humans: for example, the notion that animals can “murder,” the belief that animals must be held accountable for their acts of “violence,” and the idea that humans can (and should) enact revenge against other species, demanding that animals pay a penalty for their actions.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah E. McFarland
    • 1
  1. 1.Northwestern State UniversityNatchitochesUSA

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