Listen: “Bear” is About More Than Having Sex with a Bear

Erotic romance novels are stories that contain scenes with graphic sex. Although many romance stories today seem to fit in this category, what separates erotic romance is the importance of the sexy bits. There are love stories where you can remove the part where they get wild beneath the covers, and the story will still be fine. It becomes less arousing, yes, but other than that, the story is still complete. Meanwhile, you cannot do that in erotic romance novels because that will affect the story’s flows and developments.

Listen: "Bear" is About More Than Having Sex with a Bear

Sex makes people feel good. Naturally, they will find things focusing on the act, such as sex toys,  appealing. Thus, erotic novels are popular. A quick browse at Amazon’s Kindle app will show you hundreds of erotic stories written by both new authors and already established ones. 

Most stories feature two ordinary people in love who are fulfilling their sexual desires with the help of each other. But, some books tackle threesomes, polyamorous relationships, or even relationships with sex dolls or sex robots. Moreover, based on search results on the internet, one current favorite theme of erotic novels is having sexual relationships with shapeshifters. Vampires, werewolves, and men who turn into bears are the popular pick. 

That brings us to our primary focus: the novel Bear, written by late Canadian author Marian Engel. 

Bear: Background and Synopsis

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this novel, here is some information.

Bear is famous and widely considered as the best work of Marian Engel before she died. The novel was published in 1976 and won the Governor General’s Literary Award in the same year. It was Engel’s last work before she died.

The story is about a 27-year old lonely librarian named Lou, who was sent by her employer to a remote island in Northern Ontario. Her task was to catalog and document the library donated by a person named Colonel Cary to the Heritage Institute before dying. The property was initially owned by a nineteenth-century soldier-turned magistrate who shares the same name with his descendant. 

Aside from the house and the books, Cary also left their family pet. The pet is not a dog, cat, bird, or hamster as you would expect. Instead, it is a bear. Lou befriends it, and later on, developed sexual attraction with the animal. The two of them shared some very intimate moments that made the reader’s jaws drop. Those scenes were the reason why the book was controversial. 

Opinion of the Public about Bearv B

Sexual attraction to people who can turn to animals is a common theme in erotic literature, as mentioned above. Still, having sex with straight-up beasts of the wild, or bestiality, remain unacceptable to society. With that said, some people found the award-winning novel Bear unsettling. For instance, a review on goodreads.com repeatedly wrote the sentence, “She had sex with a bear!” to emphasize how shocking it was for her. The reviewer also said that she would never pick up the book again due to how uncomfortable it made her feel. Another person took the story as a humorous piece. She said the story must be some sort of a joke, especially since Lou chose a bear over a man – a human man. But they were left wondering, how did such a bizarre tale win the most prestigious literary award in Canada?

Though, some found the charm in the story. They learned to overlook the act of bestiality and focus instead on why Lou was doing it in the first place. By approaching the book with such openness, they were able to see the real message of the story. No, it does not encourage having sex with animals. Rather, it is about connecting with yourself.

How so?

Lou’s relationship with the bear revolves not around lust but around how she sees the world and herself in it. What is her position, and what are her rights? How can she be happy? What does she desire? Those are the questions that Lou tried to answer. She did find the answer through her unusual coupling with the big brown bear. Was it weird? Yes.

Nevertheless, it helped her arrive at a much-needed realization.

Before she came to the island, Lou’s life was in chaos. She never felt satisfied with her sexual partners. One of her former partners loved her only because she was useful, not because he adored Lou as a person. She also had an affair with her boss, but there was no affection or intimacy in there. There were only carnal desires. 

The same can be said with her sexual escapades with the bear. But at least, the bear showed interest in Lou. Also, her commitment to this extraordinary relationship, which others would call disgusting, allowed Lou to be freed from the norm. That is something she desperately needed. The rebellion let her take a deeper look and have a better understanding of herself. 

Listen: "Bear" is About More Than Having Sex with a Bear

The highlight of the story is when Lou says, “Bear, make me comfortable in the world at last. Give me your skin.” It is the part when she finally found what she wanted, and she decided to go for it. 

Lou wakes up the following day with a new outlook on life. The wound she got from the clawing of the bear are wounds, not signs of anything special. The house, the books, and the solitude provided do not make a palace; they are as they are. The bear should not be treated as a sexual partner but as a bear. 

The point is, Lou does not need to repaint reality in her mind to be happy. She should not reject reality. It may be unfair to her and cause her pain and suffering; it would not break her. For as long as Lou knows herself, and she embraces that, she would be fine. 

Conclusion

Bear, at first glance, is nothing but a weird story about a woman and an animal having sex. It appears to be a book to please people with fetishes. In reality, it is about inward discovery and connecting with one’s self which satisfies more than our sexual desires.

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