Doe Season: Andy’s Epiphany Essay, Research Paper
The process of finding out who one is can be very turbulent and confusing. Through growing up one goes through so many different changes in terms of one’s personality and deciding who they are and what they want to be. The little girl in David Kaplan’s “Doe Season” goes through one of these changes, as do many other adolescents confused about who they are, and finds out that there are some aspects of a person’s identity that cannot be changed no matter how hard he/she tries.
Andy is a nine-year-old girl who doesn’t want to grow up to be a woman. When she talks of the sea and how she remembers her mother loving it and how much she hated it is a clue that she prefers to be a “boy”. The sea is symbolic of womanhood and the forest is symbolic of manhood. Andy expresses extreme distaste for the sea and a curiosity of the woods. She never really admits to liking the woods but the way she refers to it is always as if she’s fascinated by it, but she doesn’t know much about it. Therefore, she must go hunting as a test to see if she belongs. To contrast how she feels about the sea and the forest, she refers to the forest as deep and immense, while she refers to the sea as huge and empty. Andy sees the man’s world as a wonderful, fascinating world while she sees the woman’s world as meaningless and empty.
Andy sees the changes into a woman on the horizon and she is scared by these changes because they are very confusing to her. This is why she try’s to do man-type things such as hunting. To further confuse her, her father supports her striving to be part of the man’s world. He refers to her as Andy even though her real name is Andrea and takes her with him to do manly things.
The reader first gets a hint of the fact that Andy is unable to be a member of the male fraternity when she expresses her disliking of Mac. Mac is representational of the typical boy in this story. Andy thinks that Mac is stupid and is annoyed by all of the pranks and teasing he submits her to. This is an extension of her femininity, even though she doesn’t quite grasp that fact. The next instance where she feels out of place in this “man-world” is, when at lunch, they are conversing about deer. She makes the comment that she sees a deer once behind their house and Charlie Spoon tells her that was because it is not hunting season. They then converse about how deer know when and when it isn’t hunting season and start laughing about it. This whole conversation confuses Andy and makes her feel out of place. Later on, when they set up tents, she has to sleep in a tent with Mac. The things that Mac talks to her about before they go to sleep make her feel uncomfortable. First he asks her if she’s ever seen someone’s “pecker” and that makes her feel uncomfortable. Mac then talks to her about gutting a deer and it makes her think about how it would feel if someone did that to her. Two times during the story Andy sees deer. One time when she is gathering firewood and another when she takes a walk on her own. The reason she is able to see these deer is because the deer don’t think she poses any threat. Due to her feminine nature, the deer can tell that she is a girl and don’t think she means to do them harm. This is what leads to Andy to ultimately realizing that she doesn’t want to be part of the male society. The last time she sees a deer she leads everyone to it. Her dad then talks her into shooting the deer. When Andy’s father begins to gut the deer Andy has her epiphany. At that point she realizes that she can’t become part of the male society. This causes her to go running from everyone as she is forced into her nature and forced to become part of the inevitable, female society.
Andy’s father takes her hunting as a test. The hunting trip is an initiation test to see if she has what it takes to be accepted into the man’s world. She fails the test when she feels bad about shooting the deer and runs in the other direction when her father and Charlie Spoon go to gut the deer. The fact that she doesn’t like shooting the deer, which is the main goal of hunting, is evidence that she doesn’t like the male world.
In addition to her physical epiphany, Andy has an epiphany on a higher lever. The hunting trip leads Andy to the realization that even if she likes the male world, there are some aspects of who she is that she can’t change regardless of how she feels about them and how hard she tries to change them. Andy embraces the male world as an attempt to escape from becoming a part of the female world only to be rejected by the male world through a humiliating experience that teaches her that she does not fit in. This rejection is what makes her realize that there are immutable changes about people. She can’t be male material because of her nature and genetic makeup.
Andy is a girl who is scared of what a female’s world is and the confusion that goes along with becoming a female. This reaction to the female world drives her to try and be a part of the male world. Andy realizes at the end of the story that she doesn’t want to be a part of the male world. She also realizes that no matter what she does, she can’t deny her gender and that in some aspects a person must be satisfied with his/her identity.
Kaplan, David. “Doe Season” in “Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing”. Pgs. 342-354. Kirszner, Laurie. Mandell, Stephen. Harcourt Brace College Publishers. 1991. 3rd Edition.