GRE Argument Essay 127
Although black bears are common in the eastern Canadian province of Labrador, grizzly bears – often similar in color, but much larger – were believed to exist only in the western provinces. Despite a nineteenth-century explorer’s account of having startled and narrowly escaped from a grizzly bear deep in the woods in Labrador, modern scientists find no physical evidence that grizzly bears have ever lived in Labrador. But recent research into the language and legends of the Innu, a people who have lived in Labrador for thousands of years, reveals that their language has words for two different kinds of bears, and their ancient legends attribute different characteristics to the two kinds of bears. Therefore, there probably were grizzly bears in Labrador, and the explorer’s account probably accurately identified the bear.
In the given argument, the author has concluded that grizzly bears, believed to exist only in the western province of Canada, actually once lived in Labrador which is the eastern province of Canada. He has supported his argument by the account given by an explorer in the nineteenth century. To supplement his belief, he falls back on the language and legends of the Innu, a people who lived in Labrador for thousands of years. In spite of these examples, the author’s stand looks quite weak when examined closely.
As mentioned in the argument, a nineteenth century explorer gave an account of his sudden and startling encounter with a grizzly bear in the woods of Labrador, which he escaped narrowly. There is every reason to doubt this self acclaimed encounter of the explorer as he had no witness around. He may have made up a story to gain attention by adding some thrill to his expedition. Moreover, one cannot rely on the knowledge and precision of the explorer. He may not have been well read about the two types of bears and probably misjudged in the state of shock and fear.
The other example cited by the author is a point of contention itself. He claims that the Innu who lived in Labrador for quite long, had mentioned two types of bears in their language and legends. However, it is possible that they developed two types of inscriptions or codes for the same animal. Even if they denoted different types of bears, there is no evidence to believe that one of them was for the grizzly bear as it is well known that there are more than just two types of bears in the world. Contradicting our own judgment even if we assume for the time being that one of the bear characters described in the legends of the Innu was the grizzly bears, there is no reason to further assume that these bears once lived in Labrador. It is quite likely that some Innu men had seen grizzly bears in some place other than Labrador. Maybe the ancestors of the Innu belonged to regions where they witnessed these bears and narrated their experiences to them. There is another wild possibility of some odd grizzly bear reaching Labrador accidently. It may have got lost and reached in the eastern province of Canada.
Till date, no scientific or historical study has proved anything that supports the author’s view. Historians must have considered the two distinct characters mentioned by the Innu in their language and legends. They must have been aware of the account given by the nineteenth century explorer too. Still if there is no conclusion drawn by the historians in this regard, it clearly indicates that these proofs are not sufficient to assert anything about the existence of grizzly bears in Labrador.
In cessation, the example and incident cited by the author are not enough to support his argument. He should have considered more reliable and significant sources like archeological and scientific findings, before arriving at any conclusion.