… But of all his [the old stag] teachings this had been the most important; you must live alone, if you wanted to preserve yourself, if you understood existence, if you wanted to attain wisdom, you had to live alone. …
~ excerpt from Chapter 22 in Bambi: A Life in the Woods, translated by Whittaker Chambers
Felix Salten contemplates the dark influence of the human race over the animal kingdom and the power of death over all living creatures in the storyline of Bambi: A Life in the Woods. Bambi’s innocence and care-free routines as a fawn quickly fade into a morose understanding of the forest and its dangers. Even as Bambi experiences love, he must cope with the early death of his mother and see the murders of other forest animals. The nameless old stag is the father figure who leads a solitary life while occasionally interacting in Bambi’s life. He teaches Bambi how to survive and guides him through hardship. Bambi also learns how to face nature’s shocking realities and he eventually becomes as wise as his father.
The author is poetical in his descriptions of nature; however, his outlooks on the purpose of life and the horrors of death are bitter, albeit true. He declares humans, especially hunters, to be cruel, avaricious, and blood-thirsty, as evinced by the graphic hunts visualized in the novel. Bambi leaves the reader at the end of the story with a question that may never be answered, although its solution is vital to the earth’s existence. Can humans and animals ever live together in harmony without bloodshed or extortion?
Original review: Part 1: Felix Salten’s masterpieces, Examiner.com