When in nature, man tends to merge together as one with his surroundings and resonate at the same level. The serenity of nature, particularly the open air fields and the rich tenured earth promote one’s natural being to be at ease and homely. That is just the work of Mother Nature. In the literary work Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, a fight between the protagonist-Mother earth and the antagonist – the chemical insecticides used in killing the insects leave the area so silent it is too significant to be missed, she says “The town lay in the midst of a checkerboard of prosperous farms, with fields of grain and hillsides of orchards where, in spring white clouds of bloom drifted above the green fields…” (1). This essay sets to show how these landscapes become more than just geographical features but rather, become the deciding factor in the character’s behavior.
The landscapes and ecological entities in Silent Spring become more than a physical site. Carson says, “There was a strange stillness. The birds, for example-where had they gone? Many people spoke of them, puzzled and disturbed.” (2). The use of the word “strange” suggests that the people were used to the singing and chirping of the birds to such an extent that their silence was unbearable, and unusual. The birds and other insects that give and gave life to the town served the purpose of giving a meaning and definition to the people. Without their presence, nothing is as it seems.
In Silent Spring, the community is described as that which is a one unit block. It shows that nature, man and creatures work and live together. The way people enjoy the singing of the birds is shown when the poisonous chemicals are used and then all of a sudden it is as silent as death.
Spring is a critical and wonderful season that comes after winter, it is expected by nature, humans and insects alike that the time of spring is a time for new beginnings, new blossoms and fresh new songs by the birds. This makes humans very anxious and worried when the birds of the air do not sing their songs this particular spring.
As members of a civic body, as human beings, as a part of nature, we clearly need and depend on creature. Not just for food provision nor beautifying our environment, but for our sanity as well. This is shown in the third chapter when Carson says; “For these chemicals are now stored in the bodies of the vast majority of human beings, regardless of the age. They occur in the mother’s milk and probably in the tissues of the unborn child” (16), this is a silent cry of the doom that awaits in the future. Humans are no longer clean in nature due to their exposure to these harmful and poisonous chemicals.
Carson goes on to further clarify just how these chemicals fit themselves into the food chain by depositing themselves into the fatty tissues of animals and birds where they are quickly embedded and magnified into the muscles. From this case forward, a long and surely unescapable death ensures for generations to come with all kinds of hereditary and developmental diseases breaking out. The fact that this is a widespread cry is clearly elaborated on page 36 when the author says “In 1961, the Australian government announced a similar ban. No such restrictions impede the use of these poisons in the United States, however. Some of the “dinitro” compounds are also use as herbicides. They are rated as among the most dangerous materials of this type in use in the United States”.
The ecological world and the citizens who are not aware of the chemical and scientific significance of these poisonous insecticide continue to use them every day. The earth that is bustling with human activity and many organisms that are being threatened by massive and repeated doses of these chemical insecticides both suffer the consequences, -death, and in the end, the insecticides kill both the beneficial and harmful insects.
However, life is not all sweet and simple, the environment and men are both unpredictable and in a bid to both survive, they can bot be harmful to each other, Carson describes this fight for survival in a solemn manner. She says “The environment, rigorously shaping and directing the life it supported, contained elements that were hostile as well as supporting. Certain rocks gave out dangerous radiation; even within the light of the sun, from which all life draws its energy, there were short-wave radiations with power to injure” (6). With such a description, how can man be expected to live in peace together as one with his surroundings when clearly his health and that of the future is at risk?
This ecological process express the community’s anxiety in striving for a quiet and harmonious environment. It depicts a plea from the human species, a plea for survival amongst the surroundings. The landscape becomes significantly more relevant is Silent Springs as it shows that even the seasons of the year are interdependent, spring cannot fully materialize without winter giving way.
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As critic Vera L. Norwood observes in her article The Nature of Knowing: Rachel Carson and the American Environment, she quotes that Carson “cites biologist Rachel Carson as a crucial to the shift away from a mechanistic worldview and toward an understanding of the organic home” (741). Norwood is inclined not to agree with Carson’s work. She clearly has a different point of view and opinion.
Norwood days “Both Carolyn Merchant and Donald Worster credit Carson’s work with inaugurating recent environment movements, but also locate her writing squarely in the organic tradition that sees nature as home-with all the connotations, both nature and women, that such a metaphor has. These historians are not alone in their assessment”. (742) This is a strong statement that shows us that Norwood’s critic does not strengthen Carson’s writings, she applauds he for addressing recent environmental factors yet is not thoroughly impressed by Carson’s entire work.
While Norwood makes a powerful acknowledgement of Carson’s work, she does not readily adopt Carson’s carryout of the entire book, she does not fully favor the way it was executed. Norwood says “Silent Spring details this shadowy side of our dealings with nature. In this work, Carson evinces an understanding of the limits of human pattern making that suggests connections between her work and the then-emerging philosophical critique of positivism…” (743).
In order to align her work with and on women, Norwood further goes on to analyze Carson’s work and finds “her as a major voice within contemporary discussions of gender and science as well” (743).
To sum up the matter, Norwood states that “In the final analysis, Silent Spring really is not about nature; rather, it is a close look at the limitations of human trespassing on nature. The problem Carson pursues throughout the book is that “nature has introduced great variety into the landscape but man has displayed a passion for simplifying it” (20).” (755). Norwood gives credit to Carson for showing how nature and humans strike an imbalance upon the earth in a bid to control the earth.
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