“I am fox! I go wherever I go!”

Illustrated by Shaun Tan

“After all, dear beloved, I need you as much as you need me. And where could we live if not in the bottomless den or each other’s shadow?”

“I am fox! I go wherever I go!” is a short story from Tales from the Inner City by Shaun Tan, and one less-conventionally told from the restless, excitable perspective of the animal rather than any human voice. The fox describes, essentially, the artificial movements humanity has made to distance ourselves from the instinctual, primaeval nature of the animal world. The fox’s narration suggests that our roots—our natural, animalistic tendencies—live on deep within our subconscious and show themselves in the moments when we let our guards down. They guide many of the things we do, even when we refuse ourselves the freedom to reacquaint ourselves with them fully; we call these tendencies by different  to fool ourselves into the thought that we are more advanced and more “sophisticated” than our non-human neighbours (see speciesism).

This tale, among others in Tan’s collection, such as “Once we were strangers” and “Respect the sheep,” challenges the very idea that humanity comes out above the non-human worlds (see anthropocentrism, ecocentrism); instead, it illustrates the weight of our reliance on the animals and nature which surround, accompany, house, and neighbour us (see interconnectedness). The story suggests that the ties between ourselves and those with whom we share the planet are deeper than we might wish to admit, and when we begin to recognize those ties, we both gain and give a greater service of respect where respect is due.

©2024 ClimateLit (Julia Coltman)

Other reviews from Tales from the Inner City can be found here.

This tale is featured in Climate Literacy in Education’s critical essay: “Humanity’s Reliance on the More-Than-Human in Shaun Tan’s Tales from the Inner City

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2021

Pages: 224

ISBN: 978-1338298406

Audience: Ages 14+, Ages 8-13

Format: Short Stories (Individual)

Topics: Anthropocentrism, Ecocentrism, Interconnectedness, Speciesism