Elephant's Last Stand

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"That elephant had died too, the same evening, the one who painted watercolors. Her keepsers had shipped her to Phoenix and bred her there, and her unborn had slipped out of her womb into her abdomen, rupturing the uterine wall. They hadn't let her paint during her pregnancy because they wanted her to focus on raising a calf, they'd denied her paints, brushes, the artist's life" (297-8).

And in the last chapter the elephant appears again, but it isn't wild. It's a "civilized" elephant that dies like many of the elephants in this book. She dies because her keepers wanted her to have a baby. The unwanted baby kills her and, at the same time, she is kept from her passion of painting.

Before she died, the keepers didn't recognize her similarities, her desire to do something else, but when she died they apologized continuously.

To learn more about the elephant in "The Quick and the Dead" visit Carissa's blog.

SO

2 Comments

Carissa Altizer said:

Aja,

Thanks for tagging me in your blog! I certainly think Williams wanted her readers to recognize the significance the elephant played throughout the book. I don't think there are too many animals that could have played the same role. Dolphins, maybe? Dolphins live in family pods and mate for life. They all work together to hunt and protect the group from threats like sharks. They have their own unique language, and they are one of (maybe the most?) intelligent mammal in the animal kingdom. I still think the elephant was a better fit though because the African desert environment is more similar to Arizona than the open ocean.

Aja Hannah said:

Thanks for commenting!

There isn't a lot of water imagery so I can see how that would be a problem. Aside from their environment, I would think that dolphins also aren't that studied in their grieving. It's not as obvious or popular as when an elephant grieves and, because this is The Quick and The Dead, it makes a better connecting point.

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