The wolf cub at even

(notes edited by Geoffery Annis)


This is the heading to the fourth chapter of The Light that Failed.

It is also used as a heading for Chapters XII and XIX of The Naulahka. The poem “Hunting Song of the Seeonee Pack” which prefaces the story “Kaa’s Hunting” in The Jungle Book (1894), shares the same imagery of wolves and their cubs.

The poem

The novel’s recurrent images of smoke, fog, and the moon, also inform this verse. Just as the moon, a symbol in The Light that Failed of all things female, ‘swept the smoke wreaths away’ in the poem, so the wind ‘that had opened the fog, drove across Dick’s face the black smoke of a river steamer’ (page 56 para 2) to reveal the adult Maisie standing there; smoke or fog being symbols of hiding and revealing. More obscurely, perhaps, the contrast between the predatory wolf-cub and its prey could be said to anticipate Dick and Maisie’s emotional conflicts. Torpenhow’s criticism of Dick extends the symbolic significance:

‘You might as well call a young wolf a lion and expect him to take the compliment in exchange for a shin-bone. Dick’s soul is in the bank. He’s working for cash’.


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