The Revenant

I watched the film The Revenant when it was released in January of this year, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The acting was top-notch (remember how Leonardo Dicaprio is now an OSCAR winner because of it?), and the story was fascinating, as is the case with the book. What drew me in more than anything, though, was the setting - the American Midwest. I have a slight obsession with it: its swathes of land that allow you to see miles ahead, adjacent to majestic hills and mountains and flowing rivers and streams. The natural beauty that the area possesses simply mesmerizes me. 

Michael Punke, in the book The Revenant, describes the Midwest of the 1820s just as I had envisioned it - wild, alluring, and dangerous. It was certainly dangerous for Hugh Glass, the protagonist of this true story (that Punke has taken some creative liberties with). While working for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, Glass is brutally attacked by a grizzly bear. His comrades leave him for dead and take his supplies for their own. Through sheer will, Glass survives, lives off of the land, and traverses the wilderness to get back to his comrades and seek vengeance on those that abandoned him. 

Although Glass is The Revenant's main character, the setting itself plays a major role. At times it is a protagonist, providing Glass with game to eat or materials with which to build a boat. On other occasions, it is as much of an antagonist - if not more than - those that left Glass to die, sending the bear that marred him or halting his progress with blinding blizzards. All the while, the setting is frighteningly beautiful and demanding of Glass' and the reader's respect.  

I won't spoil whether or not Glass finds the revenge he so desperately seeks, but I will say that the journey along the way is a captivating one. Glass encounters obstacle after obstacle, but he is so focused on vengeance and survival that he does not let those roadblocks defeat him. He fights the setting, he works with it, he understands the vital role it plays in his voyage. Glass becomes part of the Midwest, and it becomes a part of him. 

In short, I highly recommend that you read The Revenant, then go watch the movie if you haven't yet done so. It has certainly amplified my fascination with the American Midwest that I hope to visit in the near future (hopefully with no grizzly bear attacks, please).

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  1. This has been on my list for awhile but I keep reading other books. After reading your review, I'm definitely going to pick this up!




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