March 14: “With the World, or Bound to Face the Sky”

Normally when some animal is raised in captivity, it wouldn’t be able to survive out in the wild, if it were to be released. For example, most animals in zoos cannot be released into the wild if they were raised in captivity their entire lives. However, in this story, the roles are switched. Could this concept hold true for the Hesse child being “domesticated” by the wolves unable to join human society?

5 thoughts on “March 14: “With the World, or Bound to Face the Sky”

  1. A human that lived as an animal and was introduced into human society later in life would not fully or never integrate into human society. The human is accustomed with a way of living, which is an animalistic lifestyle. The human would unable to communicate its discomforts because it wouldn’t be able to speak a human language. There are examples in the text of humans being introduced into human society and dying soon after. Introducing a human from a life as an animal into the complex structure of human society would be similar to introducing an animal that was born in a zoo into the wilderness. Even if this human was gradually introduced into human society it would most likely never become fully integrated.

  2. The Hesse child brings forth the interesting question of not only how a person could react when being removed from society, but also the question of whether or not they would be able to return to the society we view as civilized and “human”. Evidence from the story of the Hesse child alone suggests he may not have been able to do so, as he explicitly states he favored living with the wolves over people. Additionally, the boy was presented “for a spectacle” in court, denoting the way he was separate from the human society he was brought into. While he may have physically been brought back to human society, it appears the Hesse boy was never able to fully rejoin it, and this would always suffer as an outsider; he was in human society, but not a functioning, contributing member of it.

  3. It isn’t that the child is unable to join society, it is that he/she prefers to live as a wolf. The text is clear in saying that the child is still able to talk, walk upright, etc. However, the child “prefers” to live as before. In one account, the child couldn’t eat human food, but he would be able to find his own food, unlike an animal raised in captivity. It seems to me that the child could assimilate, provided he desired it, but there is something about the feral life that is closer to nature and therefore SEEMS more natural and preferable to the subjects of these stories.

  4. The story of the Hesse child is complex in that their is great emphasis on not the child’s actual dissimilarity to humans in civilization, but his desire not to be a part of it. From the beginning, the Hesse child is described as still able to talk, proving his physical capacity for being reintegrated into society, but his desire to remain wild is stronger. Unlike other stories wherein the human lacks an ability to be a part of society on a purely instinctual and primal level, the Hesse child’s struggle lies solely in his own desires. This complicates the notion that the child is not human, because his desire to remain with the wolves is obviously a decision outside of humanity, in that it is unlike the decisions of any human raised within a society, however his ability to choose is completely human. Animals act solely on instinct and capacity, but the Hesse child is acting due to his own agency, which is a characteristic that time and time again is used to show human’s difference and superiority to other animals.

  5. The difference between captivated animals set free and the humans raised in a wolf society is the human’s desire to live with the wolves again after they are brought back into human society. The story does not stress their ability to reintegrate into human society, rather it stresses their desire to return to the wolf societies considered home. The natural habitat of these humans seems to belong to the animal kingdom they were raised in. It draws on the concept of what is most familiar and loved by the individual. The lack of difficulty in the wolf-human’s reintroduction to human society places the rightness of action at the subject’s feet, and he yearns for the wolf society of his youth.

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