No. 761



Here is a question that I would like for you to ponder with me for a few minutes. Can humans be domesticated? The obvious answer to this question is yes, even though many people never get the word and still act like animals.
With regards to humans, there is a contingency to my previous question, and this is what I want to present for your thought and consideration. Some time back a friend was telling me about a fantastic book titled “Wild Child” written by T.C. Boyle, an English professor at the University of Southern California and a fantastic writer. I then checked this book out of our local library and have read it.
The setting for this book is the village of Lacaune in the Languedoc Region of France. The year is 1797. The story begins with a group of weary, rain-soaked hunters returning from an unproductive hunting trip, when one of them spots what looks like a small child in the glade a few hundred yards away. He is cracking and eating acorns, but has not spotted them yet. When he does, he quickly vanishes into the brush. The child was naked and walked on all fours, and a visible large scar was clearly seen on his neck.
It was later revealed that he was a rebellious 13th child of a peasant family, pre-lingual, around age 5, when his father’s second wife took him into the forest with full intentions of killing him with a butcher knife. Deep into the forest, she twisted his head around and slashed his throat, and while blood gushed freely, she disappeared back into the brush and was gone. But the child didn’t die. At this point he was all alone with nothing but survival instincts and the will to live. He would spend the next several years without human contact, in the forest, constantly looking for something to eat. When his clothes were gone, there was nothing to replace them, so his skin adjusted.
This child was around 8 or 9 years of age when spotted by the hunters and was not seen again for several weeks. Then one day he was seen again, and this time captured by Messier, the village smith, and put on display for everyone in the village to see. Here was a child that was really an animal in human form, with no language, no ideas, no way of knowing he was alive, or in what place. He did not know why he was alive and that his life was no different than any of the other creatures in the forest. From this point forward, an unbelievable story unfolds of an escape, unknowingly making his way across a mountain range, to near Paris, France, where a second capture takes place.
He is first taken to an orphanage, and later to a school for deaf-mutes where two noted professors wanted to study him. Here, they began the process of trying to restore him to lead a civilized life. One professor, Jean Marc Gaspard, was having great success with deaf-mutes, but this wild child never responded to any stimulus, never spoke a word, never showed any signs of reentering society. This professor refused to give up on him, with no progress whatsoever, until the child was around 15 years of age and normal sexual instincts begin to take over. When he exposed himself to his teachers and all the female students, this was the last straw.
He was banished to live out his life with one of his caregivers, but he never spoke a word, made no progress of any kind, and finally died when he was 40 years of age. Can humans be domesticated? This true story suggests that only if we start soon enough.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)