Rachel Carson

Disaster Filled Questions

“The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster.”

How far away is this disaster that Rachel Carson talks about in her book Silent Spring? This book is over fifty years old and not much progress has been made and unfortunately, we are still headed down the wrong road. The government reacted some, and there was a lot of fight about DDT and laws were made, but that isn’t enough. How has the environmentalism movement and writers like Carson not helped people see how important it is to change our ways? How are people still not able to see all the chemicals being put on our food and into it? Do people not care enough? Is the government not doing enough?

There are too many questions without answers; too many questions I don’t understand. It’s frustrating to have such little control and to read about all of these things I was so unaware of.

A discussion I had in class today with my peers and my professor about Silent Spring, left me inspired with more questions about the environment, but also society. Carson uses science, and examples to bring awareness to many environmental tragedies. She does so in a way that really intrigued me. She tells you a story and gives great details and descriptions of something like a robin, a salmon, or a process of the human body, and allows you to build a connection and a sense of trust in her as a writer. She then goes into the science of the destruction of this being you now feel for and persuades you to feel anger and frustration for their demise and the way humans have threatened them. She popularizes these situations and ideas to bring them to light and inspires change. It is similar to the way a politician invites you to like them so you’ll vote for them, or a professor gets you interested in a genre or topic within their class.

Being an English Education major, I am well aware of the impact books can have. I chose to follow becoming a teacher because of a novel (outside of my typical romance genre) that was presented to me. My teacher gave me a copy of The Giver and allowed me to take part in discussions about how the book affected me and what it would be like to live in a world like the one presented in the book. It was that step-out-of-your-own-shoes feeling that inspired me to follow in the past of my teacher do the same for others. She built a trust in me that allowed me to open to try something new, just as Carson did. One provoked thoughts of my future, the other provoked thoughts of what my place in the natural world in the future would look like.

The trigger to help change the way I think and the ways of mankind is developed through trust and persuasion. It is a powerful writing technique, and a powerful teaching technique I can adapt in my classroom. Humans have the need to connect and relate to things and once this connection is built an eagerness to put effort towards the idea or cause is set in motion. Those who can utilize the skill that Carson has developed in her book can do great things like bring awareness to the

“unseen and invisible.”

The attention drawn to things happening right under our noses that are putting us and the world around us in danger jolted an unsettling feeling. “How could intelligent beings seek to control a few unwanted species by a method that contaminated the entire environment and brought the threat of disease and death even to their own kind?” Yet another troubling question without an answer. If someone can answer this question, I am not sure I would want to speak to that person because they would be troubled to think of an excuse or reason for this.

How would writers like Robert Frost react to Carson’s book?

“I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

Would he encourage others to take this less traveled path? Would he feel the frustration Rachel Carson feels about the path to danger mankind is on? Without putting words in his mouth, I believe he would. His words resonate with many; this poem is one that echoes in many people’s head, just as it did for Carson. The power of literature is something to be celebrated, respected, and flaunted.

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