1.1 Introduction to Farley Mowat and His Works
As a national emblem,Farley McGill Mowat is the iconographic Canadian outdoorsmanincarnate.Two of his earliest books,People of the Deer and Never Cry Wolf,document his travelsand experiences in the Arctic in the late 1940s.By focusing on the northern indigenous people inPeople of the Deer and the infamous wolves in Never Cry Wolf,Mowat moves through bothphysical and ideological space and embeds his ecological vision into both of the novels.For thesake of probing into the ecological vision of Farley Mowat,this chapter lays the groundwork in thefollowing three aspects:introduction to the author and his novels,reviews at home and abroad,andthe origin and development of ecocriticism.
1.1.1 Introduction to Farley Mowat
Farley McGill Mowat,one of Canada’s most popular and prolific writers,has been hailed as achampion of wildlife and native Canadian rights and a sharp critic of environmental abuse.Stillpenning his last novel in his late eighties,he was such an impassioned writer that his 45 books soldmore than 16 million copies in dozens of languages in more than 60 countries worldwide.In 2001,there were over 460 translations of Mowat’s novels into 24 languages with sales of more thanfourteen million copies.With such outstanding productivity and assiduous endeavor,he isundoubtedly one of Canada’s most visible,most vocal,and best-known writers.
1.2 Introduction to Ecocriticism
Ecocriticism plays a major role in the study of human association with nature.Ecocriticismexcavates,analyzes and criticizes the ecological ideas implied in literary texts.It combinessubjects of ecology,eco-philosophy,ecological ethics and eco-politics,etc.
Ecocriticism and eco-theory explore the relationship that exists between human beings andthe natural environment.An ecocritical reading of literary text will usually examine the manners inwhich human beings and the natural environment interact,influence,and counter each other.Eco-theoretical and ecocritical readings of literary texts tend to focus on how pollution andenvironmental destruction are examined and considered in literary texts,as well as how humanbeings are depicted as interacting with their natural dwellings,as well as animals,the wilderness,and the earth as a whole.Some ecocritics and ecotheorists have shown a special interest inexploring and considering how some modern and post-modern writers imagine natural andenvironmental apocalypses.In terms of literary studies,most eco-theoretical readings of literarytexts focus on contemporary and 19th-century texts that actively and directly explore therelationship that exists between human beings and the natural world.
2 The Barrens under Intrusion in People of the Deer andNever Cry Wolf
2.1 Brutalized Intruders of the Barrens
It can not be denied that from the period when the first infant settlements were made upon theAtlantic seaboard by European colonists until the present time,there have been constant,persistentand unceasing efforts on the part of the white man to intrude on the Barrens.When the brutalizedintruders,armed with anthropocentrism in their mind and firearms under their arms,beganexploring the North and forming their own narratives,the Barrens was associated with hardship,pain and death of the vulnerable animals and defenseless Indians,thus causing ecologicaldevastation.
2.1.1 Armed Intruders VS.Vulnerable Animals
From 1763,when Canada became a British colony,to 1770,only 600 Britons immigrated toCanada,many of whom were the British soldiers granted land in Canada after their service.Shortlyafterward,the British government encouraged the immigration and occupation of Canadian landsin large numbers by English speakers,especially the unemployed after the Industrial Revolution.In the 1830s and 1840s,some Irish people from the potato famine and Scottish refugees who losttheir land poured into Canada in large numbers.Especially after the outbreak of the AmericanRevolutionary War,a large number of Loyalists poured into Upper Canada from the United States.From 1812 to the 1851 census,the white population in Upper Canada increased tenfold—from95,000 to 952,000.With the large influx of the dominant white man,predominantly driven bypredatory trade,due to the input of modern weapons and modern hunting technology,the thresholdof prey and hunting has been broken,resulting in a sharp decline in vulnerable animal in speciesand numbers,and the ecosystem has lost its previous balance.
2.2 Objectified Wild Animals in the Barrens
While foregrounding the fragility of the Barrens,Mowat showcases his ecological concern bypresenting a further critique of the objectification of the animals on the pristine land in People ofthe Deer and Never Cry Wolf.Herein,objectification has been historically defined as a process ofsubjugation whereby people and any other living organism,like objects,are treated as a means toan end.Admittedly,the Barrens is the environment that precedes the presence or disturbance ofwhite intruders.However,the tragic fact is that the white people mold the Barrens to serve theirpurposes,the causes of which can be traced in The Rights of Nature by R.F.Nash.As he puts it,“there need be no guilty consciences because the only values of nature were instrumental orutilitarian-defined,that is,in terms of human needs”.Indubitably,such utilitarianism is anthropocentric in a straightforward and indispensable sense in that anthropocentrism situates thehuman above every other living organism on the planet.Apparently,Mowat takes a negative anddismissive attitude toward the objectification of animals the way ecocriticism repudiatesanthropocentrism.Throughout the two texts,a great deal of evidence and incidents of humanobjectifying animals might be extensively detected,which can be summarized into the followingthree categories.
3 Collapse of the Anthropocentric Barrens in People of the Deer and Never Cry Wolf.............41
3.1 Downplayed Roles of the Author.............................41
3.1.1 A Medium for the Ihalmiuts and Their Knowledge.................................42
3.1.2 A Foil for the Wolf Pack..........................................44
4 Pastoral Barrens in People of the Deer and Never Cry Wolf...................................59
4.1 Harmonious Coexistence in the Animal World of the Barrens...................................59
4.1.1 Reciprocity between the Caribou and the Wolves.................................59
4.1.2 Interdependence between the Wolves.....................................61
4 Pastoral Barrens in People of the Deer and Never CryWolf
4.1 Harmonious Coexistence in the Animal World of the Barrens
In the analysis of the preceding chapters,it can be seen that,except for some cases whereanimals were killed purely for people’s pleasure,whites and their governments often killed animalsbecause their presence was harmful to human interests or they posed a threat to the survival ofother animals in the lower position of the food chain.However,in the narratives of both People ofthe Deer and Never Cry Wolf,Mowat observed a different picture.Without human intervention,there is no merely non-selective cruelty between wolves and caribou,and the relationship withinone pack and between different wolf packs was more heart-warming and friendly than peopleperceived;the animals coexist with each other in an extremely harmonious and balancedrelationship in the Barrens.
4.1.1 Reciprocity between the Caribou and the Wolves
Reciprocity in ecological theory refers to the relationships of interdependence,mutualinfluence and mutual facilitation among individual species in an ecosystem.In the ecosystem,eachspecies has its own role and function,and their interactions can generate many positive or negativeeffects.Taking scientific exploration as the starting point,the novel Never Cry Wolf records thatMowat,the author,was funded and sent by the Canadian government to go deep into the Arctic tocollect evidence related to the relationship between caribou reduction and wolf predation inpreparation for killing wolves on a large scale.However,the author discovered the true story ofwolf living conditions that are quite different from the legend.In this novel,Mowat describes theecosystem of the barren areas of the Canadian Arctic and the interaction between caribou andwolves.By analyzing the narrative of the book,it can be found that the relationship betweenwolves and caribou is a typical example of reciprocal relationships in ecology.
People of the Deer and Never Cry Wolf record Farley Mowat’s life experiences andobservations in the Arctic Barrens.Besides,he vividly describes the lives and cultures of CanadianEskimos and the behaviors of wolf packs in a documentary storytelling style,revealing thevulnerability of indigenous cultures,ecological environments and wildlife.This prompts theCanadian government to devote more attention and protection to these areas.When we delve intothese two books,we find that Mowat is concerned about the relationship between human beingsand nature and records experiences in different levels of the Barrens,hoping to present readerswith the ideal world he envisions.
As an ecocritical writer,Mowat has tried to show in both novels that eco-literature can beitself the symbolic medium of a particular form of the ecological feedback of the environment,inwhich the literary texts have and explored,in ever new scenarios,the complex relationshipbetween the prevailing needs of humans and the subservience of nonhuman nature.Hence,to finda symbolic space of expression and of integration into the larger ecology of cultural discourse,thatis,to give voice to the voiceless,Mowat deeply portrays the destruction caused by the intrusion ofwhite people from civilized societies into the Arctic Barrens.Brutal intruders impose their will ondefenseless indigenous people and turn a blind eye to the survival rights of vulnerable animals.Armed intruders are contrasted sharply with the animals they hunt,emphasizing the powerimbalance between human beings and the exploited creatures.Similarly,demonized intruders arejuxtaposed with defenseless indigenous people,highlighting the inherent injustice of colonizers’treatment of indigenous people.In the Barrens,the materialization of wild animals exposes thecruelty and greed of human beings,which drives them to exploit nature for their own interests.