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    Who Has Seen the Wind: Brian’s Apprehension of Life Essay

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    In the novel, Who Has Seen the Wind, Mitchell effectively describes the tale of a young boy who experiences several different epiphanies which are crucial to his understanding of life. Throughout the novel, Brian refers to his epiphanies as a special feeling, and attempts to piece them together to find the true meaning of existence. Brian experiences seven unique life-changing revelations, however, the ones concerning morality, the unity between right and wrong, and mortality are, for him, the most influential.

    For one whose heart is set on recognizing the genuine significance of human actuality, the apprehension of morality is imperative. The barbarity and hardheartedness towards a gopher leads Brian to realize the difference between right and wrong. The prairie children hunt for gophers as a form of entertainment and use buckets of water to lure the creatures out. This time, Brian feels uneasy and distraught when Art picks up a helpless gopher. The gopher cries out and “the thin and frantic sound thread[s] from Art”s closed hand. Brian look[s] away” Mitchell 122.

    Art continues to torture the poor creature and amputates the tail from its body. The Young Ben”s killing of the gopher and his beating of Art illustrates to Brian that such behavior towards living animals is nefarious and intolerable. To stop the gopher”s suffering, the Ben was obligated to kill it. Brian commends Ben”s actions and wishes he could have been a part of it: “[I]n his heart Brian [runs] with the Young Ben” Mitchell 124. He realizes at this point that animals have rights of their own and the boy”s actions were unjustified. It was wrong to cause the gopher such suffering.

    Since choosing between right and wrong is a frequent exercise in life, it is important that one have knowledge of what constitutes right or wrong behaviour in order that one can choose correctly. Only then can one make an attempt to reach some understanding of life in general. The gopher incident, therefore, signifies a momentous event in Brian”s understanding of life. Brian discovers the contrast between right and wrong, but does not at first realize that they go hand in hand. The horrendous sight of a two-headed calf draws Brian to the conclusion that unfortunate events arise along with pleasant ones.

    Brian experiences “the feeling” when he observes the hideous animal. The boy becomes confused. Previous epiphanies have been positive, or have been positively constructive, but this one is only depressing. “It [is not] right,” thought Brian Mitchell 173. Brian has trouble discerning why something so lamentable must have to exist. “Brian wonder[s] how there could be a calf with two heads. The more he thought, the more the futility welled up in him, urging him to forget the whole matter. He [could not] forget the calf that lived for a few moments, lifting two heavy heads on its neck, only to die” Mitchell 173.

    At this stage, Brian finally comprehends that distressing things go hand in hand with joyous ones. Life is made up of both happy and tragic experiences, and Brian must understand this to understand life. Just as bad accompanies good, death follows birth. The visit to Brian”s dead grandmother”s bedroom guides him to appreciate that death is part of a life cycle and is the fate to which everyone is subject. In the grandmother”s room, Brian has the most perplexing feeling that his grandmother is still alive despite the fact that she has been dead for two weeks.

    He observes the portraits upon the wall, and realizes that, just like his grandmother and father, the people in the portraits once lived but are now dead. “[S]till the feeling that [Brian”s] grandmother [is] not dead persisted in him. He look[s] up again at the soapstone plaques. They had died. For hundreds of years they had been dead. His own father had died and his father, and his father, and his father before him” Mitchell 291. Brian begins to ask himself why death must be. “Why [do] people die? Why [do] they finish up? What [is] the good in being human? It [is] awful to be a human.

    It [isn”t] any good,” thinks Brian Mitchell 291. Brian must comprehend that death exists, that it is something everyone will experience and is a part of and the end of life in order to engage in philosophical reflection on its existence. Understanding death is compulsory to fully understanding life. Throughout the novel, Brian strives to understand life. He experiences many epiphanies, however, morality, the co-existence of right and wrong and mortality bring him closest to finding the true meaning of life. As Brian matures, his wisdom will grow and he will somedayfully comprehend human existence.

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    Who Has Seen the Wind: Brian’s Apprehension of Life Essay. (2018, May 14). Retrieved from

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