Gender in Requiem for a Beast Notes Essay
Picture books through descriptive language and symbolic illustrations can convey many meanings. In requiem for a beast the bull metaphorically represents many issues. On one level it represent anger, violence and hatred. On another level it conveys a road to redemption. The beast also embodies the boys fathers demons from his past mistakes and can illustrate a theme of memories and how they can help us deal with our demons.
In the graphic novel the “beast” is more than just a bull in the sense that it represents many other characteristics, but it is still a beast because it embodies the aggression, violence and fear shown in the boy and also in all of us as individuals.
The hostility of the beast is shown through the physical killing of the aboriginal child, the pursuing of the bull, as well as the depression and the attempted suicide of the boy. A quote that conveys this is, “I have become such a beast”.
All the anger we have inside us is represented by the bull, but also through the boy. The “boy” not having a name establishes this, because by being nameless he can personify all of us. When the boy is trapped in the amphitheatre cornered by the bull it metaphorically suggests that everything in his life up to that point is on a stage for him to examine. There is no escape he must confront the beast. By doing so he is tackling his fears, his anger and his guilt.
The bull or the “beast” isn’t just representing the bad in all of us, it also depicts the journey to forgiveness, reconciliation of our past mistakes and the freedom of letting go of your anger. In the graphic novel, a theme of rain, washing clean wounds and the trouble of the past conveys this. A narrative quote about the boy after he kills the bull is, “a sense of calm settled over him, an emptiness that did not need to be filled”. This conveys how once that “beast” was dead, along died with it the emotional pain he had being experiencing and carrying with him for years.
The boy was stuck in this disillusionment at the beginning, but once he got away from the city and into the calm and surreal landscape of the bush, he was able to contemplate his own life as well as his fathers and free himself from his physiological demons. The boy’s physical journey helped him in his emotionally journey as it lead him into forgetting all the bad things in his life, because there isn’t time to think when your out on the horse droving the cattle. As the boy pursued the bull it became less of beast but more of a guide that would lead to an escape to freedom and composure in his life.
Our memories, thoughts and stories are what define us, and in the graphic novel the bull is depicted as leading us into a reminiscing state. A narrative quote about the boy is, “he was lead by the bull into a world of remembering”. The boy wanting to make his own stories and have his own adventures illustrates this quote and theme of remembering throughout the book. The boy does not think about where it is leading him only that the more he remembers the more he is able to grasp the situation he is in and comprehended what he needs to do.
The novel follows two stories. One is the aboriginal woman and the other is of the boy. They are two very different stories but together they lead in to a reminiscing journey and then unite when the boy decides to make contact with the family that has lived for years with a tragedy that involved for them an unsolved mystery, a mystery for which he has the answer. The boy grows to love and respect the bull even though he knows he must destroy it. As he follows the bull he grows morally, and learns that to reconcile his past he has to embrace it.
The beast is more than just a bull as it represents the boy embodying his father’s demons from the past. The boy for the father triggered distressing memories because by following in his footsteps he is reflecting the bitterness and resentment carried by his past mistakes. A quote from the novel is, “weren’t you afraid like I am? ” This illustrates how the boy was competing with the father, not only physically by trying to capture and kill the bull, but also in his mind, emotionally and intellectually.
The day his father took him to the museum he told himself he wanted to be him, but the stories his father told of the bush were merely what he wanted the bush to be for him, not what it actually became. The idol the boy imagined his father, as was in reality a man with a dark secret and a past of remorse and regret. As the boy matures he confronts his guilt and stands up to his father’s beats as well as his own. The boy deals with his fear through killing the bull, but he does so with sympathy and compassion.