Bless the Beasts and Children

by: Glendon Swarthout

Important Quotations Explained

A living buffalo mocks us. It has no place or purpose. It is a misbegotten child, a monster with which we cannot live and which we cannot live without. Therefore we slay, and slay again, for while a single buffalo remains, the sin of our fathers, and hence our own, is imperfect. But the slaughter of the buffalo is part of something larger. It is as though the land of Canaan into which we were led was too divine, and until we have done it every violence, until we have despoiled and murdered and dirtied every blessing, until we have erased every reminder of our original rape, until we have washed our hands of the bloods of every other, we shall be unappeased. It is as though we are too proud to be beholden to Him. We cannot bear the goodness of God.

At the end of Chapter 11, Swarthout implicitly comments once again on the similar situations of the buffaloes and the misfit campers. In using the metaphor, "a misbegotten child," hints at this connection. The Bedwetters have been "warehoused" at Box Canyon Boys Camp because, like the buffaloes, they "have no place or purpose." Swarthout once again links the beasts and boys by implying that society has no appreciation for these misfits who, despite their oddities and disorders, possess redeemable qualities. Furthermore, the author comments on man's capacity for cruel behavior and destruction, despite the wealth God has given him.