Suspend, for a moment, your disbelief of a wild and ferocious creature who nonetheless knew enough English to understand Jenkins’s threat and knew to flee before it got itself shot. The story of Bigfoot—and the many other names he travels under—is, after all, the story of such confusions between human and animal. It is the story of the creature uncannily close to us, encroaching from the wilderness into our homes.
Reports of such creatures like Bigfoot aren’t new; they’ve been around for centuries. Bigfoot and its siblings—Sasquatch, the Yeti—have long been recognized by folklorists as variations on an archetype known as the Wild Man. The Wild Man legend is old, and spans many cultures; usually the story involves some large, hairy figure, like a man but different, harassing a town, stealing food or livestock and drinking from the town’s water supply. Eventually, the villagers eventually swap the water for fermented milk or other alcoholic soporific—the wild man falls asleep, allowing the villagers to kill or capture him.
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