Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Pierre, is a matter of freedom (90), and much like Le Lucon near the end
of Menaud , he sees that personal freedom as linked to his humanness:
'Mais, lorsque lui-même se libérait, pensait Pierre, est-ce que du même
coup il ne libérait pas aussi d'autres hommes, leur pensée enchaînée,
leur esprit souffrant?' (90; But, thought Pierre, whenever he himself set
himself free, did he not, by that very fact, also set other men free, set free
their imprisoned thought, their suffering spirit? [92]) It is, no doubt, this
movement from self to other, from solitude to solidarity, that explains the
evolution of his epithet for the mountain from 'La Solitaire' to 'La
Resplendissante,' a term suggesting rays reaching out towards others.
This encounter with himself and between himself and humanity
pushes Pierre to work even harder to wrest the secrets from nature, but
he neglects to heed the warning signs of impending change of seasons
and finds himself trapped by winter, with little food to sustain him. It is
at this point that he has another encounter, with nature, in the form of a
wild animal: 'Il leva les yeux, il aperçut dans le fond de la petite vallée,
arrêté là comme pour réfléchir lui aussi, un caribou aux énormes bois,
tel un arbre sur sa tête.' (92; He raised his eyes and saw at the end of the
tiny valley, standing stock-still as though itself reviewing its own situa-
tion, a caribou with antlers towering like a tree upon its head [94].) The
aging caribou not only reflects Pierre ('lui aussi'), but also recalls the
tree ('tel un arbre') that had prompted his first discovery of solitude.
Both together represent nature and ultimately Pierre's natural self. 17
Desperate for food, he wounds the animal, then follows the tracks of its
blood through a labyrinth of rocks well into the night, until he fells it
with a hatchet, then weeps over the unbearable harshness and suffering
of life (96). Upon returning to his camp, he finds it has been raided by a
foraging bear that has destroyed not only his provisions and posses-
sions but also his studies of the mountain, which then seems to reproach
him for his failures.
Discouraged to the point of contemplating suicide, but sustained by
the thought of the mountain to be rescued by his art in the future, Pierre
makes his way towards Orok's faraway village, which he somehow
manages to reach. Recuperating, he is compared again to both tree and
animal, 'décharné comme les bois d'un caribou' (100; emaciated as a
caribou's tree-like antlers [my translation]), and, reflecting on the les-
sons nature has taught him, his subsequent art reveals 'la souffrance de
vivre' (101; life's suffering [105]). At this point Pierre has yet another
important encounter, with an old Breton missionary, Père Bonniec,
whose perspective dominates the final chapter of the novel's second
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