Human Nature in the Afternoon

Most people like to think of themselves as accepting and kind to others. Rarely does a person admit to himself or herself that they are a racist or a bigot, but the fact remains that there are racists and bigots in the world. Actually, most people can be rude or vicious at times, without provocation, and while most people don’t ever reach the point of bigotry, they are not always as kind and happy as they consider themselves to be. "The July Bug," by Sarah Krone, depicts this idea through a narrative of the author’s experience while working at a summer camp. By conveying her feelings during a day at this summer camp, Krone manages to depict a person’s ability to dislike or even despise others without reason or provocation as well as show how a multitude of factors can add up to bring such a reaction about.

Climate is one cause by which this personality shift can be made possible. "July Bug" takes place on an Iowa ranch in the summer. The narrator, who is seen to be Krone herself, describes Iowa as "the singularly worst climatic disaster God has ever created" (1). This climate is used by Krone to set the stage for the actions of the day. The nature of the weather effects the nature of her character. Such a day gives the narrator a short temper to begin with, and little patience to deal with the trials of the day.

These trials also add to the culmination which can bring out the demon in people, not the least of which being her seemingly perfect co-worker. Anyone with a brother or sister can confirm that being constantly compared with another person can be mentally and emotionally trying, and when one is always looked on as inferior to the other it can cause him or her to harbor anger, or even hate toward such a person. In this case the immaculate being comes in the form of another counselor at the camp named Amanda. Krone describes Amanda as "tall, thin, graceful, and (with) a sense of sincerity that even the Pope would have had problems finding sin in" (2). In the narrator’s eyes Amanda is the embodiment of many of the things she wishes she could be. Amanda is liked by everyone at the camp, she is active in community service at her church, and she always has a happy disposition. Even though the narrator would probably not be happy living the life that Amanda lives, she still feels jealous of the positive attention that Amanda receives. While Amanda has done nothing obvious to incur the narrator’s wrath, she nonetheless is seen as an irritation to the narrator, and is despised for it. "I didn’t hate her," says the narrator, "but it was hard to always be compared to her and found to be the black sheep" (2). The narrator’s disposition toward Amanda manifests itself at times throughout the narration. While she never ridicules Amanda openly, the narrator refers to her as "that bitch" (5) for no apparent reason.

These feelings toward Amanda bring the narrator closer to her breaking point, which is finally crossed when she is kicked by a horse. While she was trying to get two horses out of a pen containing many of them, the group of horses got excited, and in the confusion she was kicked in the side by Chief, one of the male horses. Her reaction after such an experience is very revealing, not only to her nature, but also to the nature of all people. After making it safely out of the pen, the narrator was confronted by the two other counselors, Amanda and Mark, who immediately asked if she was okay and tried to help her. The narrator’s immediate reaction to this offered aid is a knee jerk "I’m fine" and a desire to be left alone. At that point she "felt like spitting on both of them" for their concerns (4). At first glance this may seem like an overly harsh reaction, but most people can probably remember a time when they were in the same situation, and reacted in much the same way. This reaction tells us something about human nature. While many people are kind, gentle creatures for the most part, they also have a breaking point. When a person reaches this point he or she often will begin to disregard common norms of social relations. A traumatic experience, like being kicked by a horse, often provides a final straw that pushes a person to his or her breaking point. When that point was reached he or she no longer feels willing to put up with the other people, whatever their intentions.

By narrating this example of her breaking point Krone speaks to the nature of such an occurrence, and reveals to the reader a little bit about himself or herself. Most people don’t ever realize they are at their breaking point when they reach it. It is much easier to point out flaws in others than it is to see them in oneself. By speaking of her own experience in such a situation, Krone is able to raise awareness of the situation in others. People should not be looked down upon for such occasional outbreaks. Everyone has their breaking point, and everyone will reach that point at some time in their life.