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James, Henry. "Beast in the Jungle" in The Great Books Reading and Discussion Program. The Great Books Foundation.

Critical Issues:

Fear is worse when one is alone. Clearly, throughout the breadth of the story, John Marcher is aware that something bad is going to happen, and so he turns to May for support, so that he does not have to face the ordeal alone. And so, the two of them "watched together".

One’s worst enemy exists inside himself. From the middle of the story, John Marcher talks of a "beast in the jungle". Obviously, he is referring to an internal stuggle that he feels will be looming in his future. However, it is still hiding "in the jungle". Nonetheless, it is quite the powerful beast, and should not be taken lightly.

Interpretive Questions:

Who is the beast?

Why does Henry James make May seem to know so much more about John than he does about himself?

Why does May refuse to tell John what she knows?

Why is John so ignorant of his own emotional state?