Course Hero Logo
Literature Study GuidesThe BearSection 6 Realization Summary

The Bear | Study Guide

William Faulkner

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "The Bear Study Guide." Course Hero. 22 Nov. 2020. Web. 28 Mar. 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2020, November 22). The Bear Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved March 28, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2020)



Course Hero. "The Bear Study Guide." November 22, 2020. Accessed March 28, 2023.


Course Hero, "The Bear Study Guide," November 22, 2020, accessed March 28, 2023,

The Bear | Section 6 (Realization) | Summary



Popova laughs at Smirnov's admission that he likes her. She points him toward the door and tells him to go outside so they can begin their duel. Smirnov briefly looks as if he will go through with the duel. Then he hesitates. He and Popova look at each other in silence for a solid 30 seconds. He walks up to her slowly and asks if she is still angry at him. She doesn't reply, and he struggles to express his feelings. Finally he shouts, "Well, is it my fault that I like you?" He then grabs a chair and breaks it. He repeats "I like you" followed by "I almost love you!" Popova is caught off guard by this confession. She responds that she hates him. Her angry reaction only makes him love her more. Popova threatens to shoot him unless he backs away. Smirnov replies that he would gladly die if it is at her hand. He lists off his character strengths and financial resources and then abruptly proposes to Popova.

Popova's hands begin to shake. She insists that she and Smirnov have to complete the duel. Smirnov says that he has gone mad from love. He yells for Luka to bring him water. Smirnov kneels in front of Popova and insists that he loves her more than any other woman in his life. When Popova does not respond to his protestations of affection, he stands up and prepares to leave Popova's house. She tells him to stop and then tells him to go away, only to change her mind again. She changes her opinion over and over until Smirnov approaches and puts his arms around her. She yells, "I hate you! Let's go and fight!" Popova and Smirnov kiss. The gardener, the coachman, and Luka arrive armed with farm tools. Luka is completely flabbergasted by the sight of his mistress kissing Smirnov. Popova stops kissing Smirnov long enough to tell Luka not to give her husband's horse Toby any oats.


The Bear resolves with Popova and Smirnov both reaching a new understanding of themselves and each other. They realize that their irritation with each other was actually the first stirrings of fondness. When the play opens, Popova has devoted herself to a passive life dedicated to her husband's memory or at least the memory of her love for him. Smirnov is wrapped up in the daily concerns of running a farm. They shock each other out of their current patterns. This disruption is enough to make them reconsider the direction their lives have taken them. Smirnov wonders aloud, "What do I want to fall in love with you for? To-morrow I've got to pay the interest, and begin mowing." He remembers his previous concerns, but he cannot recall why they were so important only an hour before. He insists he is making a terrible mistake even as he embraces Popova. She echoes his shock at this abrupt turn of events. She yells out her hatred for Smirnov but refuses to let him leave her sight. Popova and Smirnov's first moment as a couple is messy and conflicted because they each have to overcome their formerly ingrained patterns of behavior and change their expectations for the future.

Smirnov learns that he has not abandoned love altogether after all. He says he is angry with himself for going back on his promise to never love again. After all his speeches, he finds himself on his knees before Popova, begging her to accept him as her husband. This emotional rebirth brings him back to his younger self. He exclaims that he is "in love like a student." It is as if the past heartaches never happened. Popova is similarly brought back to an earlier, more innocent version of herself. She kisses Smirnov in full view of her servants despite her earlier desire to be seen as a reserved, self-disciplined widow. Popova's change of heart is driven home by her final order to Luka. She tells him not to give Toby the horse any oats. Less than an hour before, she told Luka to give Toby extra oats as a tribute to her husband who always loved Toby. Her decision to deny Toby his treat shows she has finally stopped worrying about what Nicolai would think if he could see her. It is suggested in the play that Nicolai cared more about the horse than his wife. Popova has a slight bit of revenge against Toby as if she has finally recognized the level of favor Nicolai bestowed upon the animal instead of her. Nicolai's preferences no longer control her actions because she has finally found the love she so desperately wanted from him.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about The Bear? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!