The Bear That Wasn’t, written in written in 1946 by Frank Tashlin, explores identity and what we can know about ourselves and others. The bear in the story wakes up after winter hibernation and a factory has been built over the cave where he had slept. He is in the middle of a busy factory, and everyone he meets tells him that he is not a bear, but a “silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat.” At first the bear is sure of his own identity, but eventually begins to question whether he is in fact a bear.
How do we know who and what we are? Are there things that only we know about ourselves? Are there things we don’t know about ourselves? If everyone tells us something they believe about us, does that make it true?