Posted by: Fabius Bile | February 6, 2010

Apes and Racism, Plus a Dissapeared Woman

confused gorilla

"What would I possibly want with your women?"

Equals the short story What I didn’t See by Karen Joy Fowler. In this narrative, we are told the story of a small party of Americans (and a large party of African Natives) who journey into the jungle in order to hunt gorillas (and in turn then save them…by hunting them). While their motives seem a bit strange “Having a woman shoot one to show there isn’t and real manly sport in it” (actually that’s really strange) they are good in nature, as all they want to do is preserve and save these gentle giants.

Of course, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry as they say, and it ends up that they (mainly Eddie, the one who had once shown little interest in hunting gorillas) kill upwards 40 of these creatures. Why do they do it? Well, because the gorillas took their woman (Beverly) of course! So it comes down to the men (as the main female protagonist is sent back to the mission) to get revenge for this poor abducted woman. Of course, things aren’t just that simple. It strikes the reader as it happens “But wait, why would gorillas take a woman? They don’t really have any use for them, after all they are peaceful herbivores!”. Of course we only know this from our modern day educated standpoint. Back then, these people may have thought that the gorillas actually did take Beverly. Who knows, maybe in this magical world of science fiction these apes did take the woman, only for her to serve them as they rise to take over the world (You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!!!).

Of course the reader is able to form their own opinions as to what exactly happened to Beverly. Is it much more plausible that the natives did something to her rather than the apes? Of course, in fact there would be evidence placed within the narrative to suggest that (i.e the native attempting to speak about Beverly at the mission). Is it also possible that she decided to run off and live among them as a wild jungle-person? Perhaps, and then we would have a female “Tarzan” on our hands. But ultimately it is up to the reader to decide. Though by our modern mindsets, it seems silly to think that gorillas took her, but then again, this is science fiction.



  1. Alright THIS is where this goes…

    I thought this post’s title was a quick, funny and accurate assessment of the story. You’ve got good humor (not ice cream.) Anyway, I’m just blowing steam a little bit because I usually comment before the class discussion and I didn’t and now I can’t really think of anything new to say… Except that in your title you cited racism, but didn’t really talk about it in the body of the post. I thought the points about racism that we talked about today were interesting, in reference to the porters. You identified them as separate from the hunting party, so did you think of any other ways that the story was racist?

  2. What I don’t get is why Eddie was the one that had to slaughter all the gorillas. I mean he seemed the most down to Earth of all the American expeditionaries, but I guess the guy had to let off steam. It was funny when I was reading the description of the gorilla massacre all I could think of was the movie Congo where they destroy the herd of killer apes with a laser beam made from a random diamond—of course. But I agree, I don’t understand why anybody took Barbara… maybe she just travelled off into the woods and fell into a ravine or something. I guess we’ll know if she-Tarzan comes swinging through with her tribe of gorillas.

  3. Bravo, good sir. You’ve managed to mix the story, possible…es…es…whatever about how the story ended and your own brand of witticism. Oscar Wilde, watch out. I wrote about the same thing in my post and the theory I’m subscribing to is not the woman in the jungle CRAZY theory. I find it much more plausible that the CANNIBAL NATIVES had at least a LITTLE bit to do with her disappearance. Who knows, maybe I’m racist…

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