Masks are Metaphors

Grandfather would prowl through the living room as though seeking a place of rest and not finding it, would stare fixedly without speaking, and would then descend the basement steps to the rocking chair which sat beside the furnace. — Margaret Laurence, “Mask of the Bear”(139)

… not selfishly–or not always selfishly, we are in search of our identity, the identity of our human condition.
– Malcolm Ross & John Stevens

The most profound discovery that we can make is our discovery of self. Our identity rests in the kind of people we are. To understand who we are and to develop fully as human beings, we must explore the nature of our humanness and the purpose of our lives. Who and what are we? What are the common human qualities and ideals we hold? What roles do other people (e.g., friends, family) play in our lives? What brings us joy, inspiration, and fulfillment? What doubts and fears do we have? By examining our lives and searching for answers to these and other questions, we can find meaning and fulfillment as human beings.

The life which is unexamined is not worth living.
– Plato

Read closely Margaret Laurence’s, “The Mask of the Bear.”

As the title suggests, masks are a significant literary device in the development of character in this story.

30-1 Write a five paragraph essay in which you discuss the ideas suggested by Laurence about the relationship between masks and the search for identity.

30-2 Write a five paragraph essay about masks. Research masks, psychological and cultural. How are masks significant in your life in 2009?

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