Who Has Seen the Wind: Meaning of Life


Mariusz Jakimik
Miss Rende
English ENG3A-05
March 11, 1997

From the time people are born, until they die, it is only a natural thing to
want to keep learning about their life and to figure out why they were put on
this earth. From the very beginning of life, babies want to touch and
experience everything around them. Throughout the novel, Who Has Seen the Wind
by W.O. Mitchell, Brian O\'Connal has found himself with a tremendous hunger to
discover the real meaning of life. Clearly, then, Brian always searches for new
ways to learn about the world he lives in. One of the things that Brian shows
an interest in is God. Brian really wants to meet Him, not knowing that God is
something that cannot be seen, for He is a spirit. Brian would say "Lets go
over to his place"(7). Throughout the novel, Brian seems to be looking for God.
He has his own image of God in his mind, thinking that "God rides the vacuum
cleaner"(31). Brian learns the truth about God from different people like his
parents, Saint Sammy, Mr. Hislop, his grandma, and his friends. He discovers
that God is everywhere and in everyone, but He cannot be seen.

Furthermore, Brian is very much interested, like many other children his age,
about where living things come from. Being as young as he was, he always
thought that God delivered babies. After Brian witnessed his very first birth,
that of a rabbit, he became very confused and curious about what and how it
happened. Brian had a very uncomfortable conversation with his dad, Gerald
O\'Connal, about where babies come from:

Remember I told you the pigeon grows inside the egg, the mother
lays the egg, and it hatches?...They don\'t with rabbits. Rabbits
are different. The father plants a seed in the mother and the
baby grows from it. When it\'s time, they come out.

Is that what he is doing when...

Yes Spalpeen, that\'s what he is doing.(161-162)

This fascinated Brian very much.

Unquestionably, everything that is born and lives, must eventually die. Death
is an unavoidable fact of life, and cannot be escaped. The deaths in the novel
start out from not very significant, to the very shocking ones. Brian was
becoming aware of death but was not influenced very much from such deaths like
the gopher, the rabbits and Mr. and Mrs. Wong. After his dog Jappy\'s death,
Brian realizes how fragile life is. It was a complete shock to him when his dad
suddenly died. Brian did not know what to feel. It was as if Brian\'s life was
over, and he felt lost and lonely without his father. Brian learned that
"People were forever born, people forever died, and never were again. Fathers
died, and sons were born. The prairie was forever, with its wind whispering for
man, but for Brian\'s father-never."(239)

Thus, Brian begins to realize that the world is full of strange and unexplained
things. Brian does not know why the two headed calf was born, so he concluded
that it must have been God\'s mistake. The runt pig was another abnormal
experience for Brian. He felt sorry for it and wondered why such things are
born, and he did not want Ab to kill it. "You can\'t kill my runt pig"(216), he
said. Furthermore, Brian wanted to get to know the Young Ben better, because he
felt a special connection to him. It was as though they had something in
common. Brian felt that he could learn something from the Young Ben,
something nobody else could teach him. Saint Sammy was another mysterious buy
to Brian that teaches him about God. Saint Sammy was an outcast in town because
he claimed that he knew God personally and had a special connection with Him.
Throughout the novel, Brian satisfies his need to understand life more by
experiencing many different situations. He learns that life is very
complicated and hard to comprehend. He becomes aware of God looking over us,
he also learned how wonderful birth is, and how sudden and tragic death is.
Brian really understood that birth is the exact opposite of death. He had seen
the circle of life turn right before him, and life and death were now familiar
to him. Life is full of unexplained events, but everything happens for a reason.
Even though Brian witnessed all this, it is only human nature to want to keep
learning about life and what it has to offer.

Works Cited

Mitchell,