Identity Crisis in The Bear that Wasn?t by Frank Tashlin

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“The Bear That Wasn’t,” a short story by Frank Tashlin, is about a bear that hibernates in his cave and wakes up under a factory. Factories cover his once beautiful forest and people he doesn’t know surround him. Everyone thinks that he is one of the factory workers when he really is just a bear. The story demonstrates the bear’s perception of his identity and the identity with which society labels him. Society sees people by what their occupation is, not by who the person really is. A person is labeled by an occupation and not by whom they truly are due to the many changes in technology that have occurred. They are known as people who work machines. A person loses his or her own identity when they become a part of society. The bear in the story faces these exact situations and problems but he remembers his true identity.

The bear loses his identity when he is introduced to society. When he wakes up, he is immediately found by the foreman and is told to get back to work. He is seen as a worker and nothing else while he really is a bear who doesn’t even belong there. They go to the General Manager, the Third Vice President, the Second Vice President, the First Vice President, and the President to prove that he is not a bear but a worker and they all say, “You’re not a bear. You’re a silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat.” They really don’t see him as a bear but as a worker. They immediately give him the title of a worker. The bear thinks that he is a bear but everyone else thinks he is a worker just because he happens to be in a factory when he wakes up. For a while he is convinced that he is a worker, but when he goes into the forest during the winter, he realizes that he is a bear and it is time for him to hibernate.

In conclusion, society identifies the bear as a worker and the bear loses his identity of being a bear when he enters it.

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