what cultrual significance do they hold
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At one point in the story, Ishmael is chased by a wild bore. He recalls a story his grandmother told him about a hunter who knew a plant that could change him into a boar. Pigs and humans were enemies and the hunter, in pig form, lured the pigs and then changed form to kill them. One pig sae the plant the man ate so the pigs eat all the plants so the man can't return to his form. The metaphor is that Ishmael's own countrymen turn against each other. Each side wants everybody to conform to a "shape" or they will be killed.