“In wildness is the preservation of the world”. -Henry David Thoreau

Since I grew up in Conway, NH, my upbringing was surrounded by mountains, rivers, and forests that offered many opportunities for recreation. Consequently, I have developed an interest in outdoor recreation which coincides with an environmentalist philosophy that advocates the preservation of the wilderness.

As a senior majoring in English Literature at Keene State College, I have gone through the process of writing and compiling these essays for a course on environmental literature taught by Dr. Mark Long. Since I have never been acquitted with environmental literature outside of selected works by Henry David Thoreau and other Transcendental writers, I have attempted to draw connections between the literary works I have had the opportunity to read in other classes and the new texts that I have encountered in Dr. Long’s course. During my studies in this class, I have come to realize that in order to acquire a complete understanding of the purpose and importance of environmental writing, it is important to have a historical perspective considering both economic and political situations.

Throughout this course, I have learned how to expand my enjoyment of outdoor recreation to a working knowledge of the different kinds of environmental literature that make up the overall canon. I have also learned about the scientific data and chemical compounds that are a danger to the environment as outlined in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. 

As society continues to face a rising epidemic of global and local environmental concerns such as global warming, pollutions, and shortages of available freshwater, it is important to have citizens who appreciate and are aware of the impact humanity has on the natural environment.

Barriers in TC Boyle’s The Tortilla Curtain

In TC Boyle’s novel, The Tortilla Curtain, the wall serves as an important metaphor in both a positive and negative context in relation to society. While a wall can symbolize shelter for something or someone and provide protection from enemy threats, a wall can also become a metaphor for a self-absorbed attitude and withdrawal from the outside world similar to how the inhabitants of the Arroyo Blanco Estates attempt to separate themselves from the rest of the world. Additionally, walls also represent how a fear of outside influences and culture can result in distrust and ignorance.

Physical barriers are a major element in Boyle’s novel. In the scene depicting Candido and Rincon’s illegal crossing of the United States and Mexico border, both illegal immigrants discover that the United States does not offer the kind of safety that they were expecting. Due to their illegal status and the different culture in the states, both travelers were viewed as invaders who should not be accepted into American society. This section of Boyle’s text shows how many Americans view immigrants as a detriment to society since they do not fit into the perceived landscape of an ideal, traditional American culture. In addition to their inability to fit into a new society, the lack of employment opportunities that are capable of providing for a family (even when Candido finds a job). This element of the book shows that the American Dream is not available for all citizens which illustrates the inequality in American society. The inability of Candido and Rincon to find employment is also represented by their living location-Arroyo Blanco Estates can be found in a distant canyon which is a constant reminder of how far away the American Dream truly is.

Society’s conflict with walls and barriers in Boyle’s The Tortilla Curtain is also noticeable in the depiction of Delaney’s life in a gated neighborhood and his reluctance to accept the situations that illegal immigrants face in the United States in contrast to Candido’s struggle to realize the authenticity of the American Dream. While both characters come from different economic and social situations, both Delaney and Candido live their lives defined by a physical barrier.

In addition to a portrayal of the effects physical barriers have on society, Boyle also examines family dynamics and the importance of having a strong work ethic. The character, Candido, represents the traditional male head of a household which resonates with many working class American families. While Candido is an illegal immigrant and has a different culture, I was especially able to relate my own upbringing to this element of the novel since I was raised in a middle class household with a stay at home mother and a father who worked to provide for us. Candido’s desire to provide for his family is his work ethic. Through this character, Boyle successfully blurs both the racial and societal divide between illegal immigrants and American citizens.

The depiction of racism and intolerance in TC Boyle’s The Tortilla Curtain is very relatable to another course that I am currently enrolled in at Keene State College. To complete my degree in English Literature, I am taking an upper level literature and theory course called “Insiders, Outsiders, Strangers” taught by Dr. Emily Robins-Sharpe. During my analysis of the course readings, I have learned how the cultural and societal marginalization of foreign individuals or societal “outsiders” is often overlooked. Boyle’s novel especially reminded me of Citizen by Claudia Rankine which depicts the societal prejudice toward African Americans that is still present in contemporary society. Using poetry and images, Rankine paints a vivid depiction of how intolerance affects African American citizens. For example, Rankine writes, “I knew whatever was in front of me was happening and then the police vehicle came to a screeching halt in front of me like they were setting up a blockade….Get on the ground. Get on the ground now. Then I just knew” (Rankine, 105). This passage from Rankine’s work depicts the fear that accompanies marginalized minority or outsiders.

The concept of societal “outsiders” in Rankine’s novel is definitely relatable to the portrayal of illegal Latino immigrants in the United States. Similar to the African Americans depicted in Rankine’s poetry anthology, the characters in Boyle’s novel face the same fear of racial prejudice and the struggle to find their place in an intolerant, “insider”, society. Both works question whether the idealist American Dream is still present today.

Works Cited

Rankine, Claudia. Citizen: An American Lyric. 2014. Graywolf Press. Print.

Gary Snyder and Environmental Knowledge

In Gary Snyder’s The Practice of the Wild, I find it especially interesting how he views the concept of knowledge and wisdom. In this collection of essays, he often mentions “Grandmother wisdom” which he defines as a knowledge (or understanding) of how to get along with the other systems (human and environmental) in the world. He elaborates on his definition to include Grandfather wisdom which symbolizes knowledge which is passed on through generations.

This element of Snyder’s writing really connected with some of my childhood memories. Since I grew up in a small, New England town, there were always many activities to participate in outdoors whether it was canoeing in the summer or telemark skiing in the winter. My enjoyment of outdoor exploration originated from my father’s own interest in camping and mountaineering. Following Snyder’s concept of wisdom, my father developed a love for the environment from his grandfather who was an avid hunter and outdoorsmen following his military service in World War II. Snyder’s idea of Grandfather knowledge is particularly applicable to my life since my father was able to pass on the interests of his grandfather to me.

My outdoor experiences during my childhood definitely influenced my young adult life. After I graduated high school, I moved to Hartford, CT, which was a completely different environment than I was used to. Since I was missing the clean, mountain air that I was accustomed to, I moved back to New Hampshire. My job as a camp counselor allowed me to pass on some of my natural knowledge that I had gained during outdoor excursions with my father. These experiences directly relate to Snyder’s concept of passing on knowledge to the next generation or to individuals who have not been acquainted with nature.

In addition to his views on environmental wisdom expressed in The Practice of the Wild, Snyder also elaborated on a similar philosophy in an earlier poem entitled, “Axe Handles”. Snyder’s poem is a meditation on parenthood,  cultural history in the family, and the concept of relating old wisdom to everyday situations. This theme helped to lay the groundwork for Snyder’s later writings on how ancient or “Grandfather” wisdom is relevant in contemporary society.

In “Axe Handles”, the poet, who happens to also be the narrator, teaches his son Kai to accurately throw a hatchet to hit a target. When Kai’s father is working to make a new wooden handle for his son’s hatchet out of an axe handle, he is reminded of a quote by the American poet Ezra Pound: “‘ When making an axe handle, the pattern is not far off’” (Snyder, 1). The narrator proceeds to relate the quote to their own experiences with making a handle. This section of Snyder’s poem communicates his fascination at how culture is passed down through generations and is manifested in tools in addition to literature.

“Axe Handles” composed by Snyder in 1983 especially interested me since I work in the construction business.  The relationship of the different kinds of wisdom required to work with tools and the wisdom discovered by studying literature are both very similar. This element of the poem is fascinating to me since it suggests that there is an ethic (environmental or work) that applies to working with wood. Since lumber and timber used for building is derived from the natural forest, wood workers are constantly connected to natural resources throughout a work day. Using these natural resources responsibly requires a “Grandfather wisdom” or awareness of mankind’s footprint on the environment that is passed down through generations of builders. Snyder’s poem “Axe Handles” introduces this interpretation of wisdom that he expands on in his later work, The Practice of the Wild. 

I noticed that the tone of Snyder’s collection of essays differs from other texts we have read in class. Snyder does not choose to write in a tone explicating a vehement defense of nature as a flawless entity that is mercilessly ravaged by mankind. He also does not make a pleading call for action against pollution and irresponsible use of natural resources. Rather, Snyder appeals to the reader to see how the outdoors fits into daily life. He expands the concept of nature to include the general physical universe in an attempt to make the reader feel more connected to the environment. I think that Snyder’s style of writing in these essays is more effective in the cause of environmentalism since he does not ask the reader to personally work toward fixing the problem. He only asks the reader to think about how nature fits into their individual lives.

Edward Abbey and Henry David Thoreau

Edward Abbey’s 1975 novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang, follows the antihero, George Washington Hayduke who declares that his purpose in life is to “save the fucking wilderness. I don’t know anything else worth saving”. Abbey’s novel begins with an act of environmental terrorism, or activism, relying on the interpretation of the reader. After a dedication of a bridge spanning the Glen Canyon, an explosion destroys the new structure returning the landscape to its condition prior to man’s influence.

The novel tackles the issue of civilization’s impact on society. There are definite parallels between the work of Transcendentalist writer Henry David Thoreau and environmental author Edward Abbey. Thoreau’s writings condemning the impact of slavery on society and his strong abolitionist leanings mirror Abbey’s own cause of protecting the natural environment from human exploitation. Both authors were also not opposed to militant and aggressive measures to further their attempts to eliminate the encroachment of the influential members of society on the powerless minority. While both authors wrote during different time periods, each wrote with the intention of having a provocative effect on the reader.

In his essay “A Plead for Captain John Brown”, Thoreau outlines his argument for the radical, aggressive actions of John Brown to eliminate slavery from the South. While the actions of John Brown were illegal due to their militant, vigilante nature, Thoreau argues that sometimes violent protest is needed in order to change immoral societal institutions. Thoreau writes,  “I do not wish to force my thoughts upon you, but I feel forced myself. Little as I know of Captain Brown, I would fain do my part to correct the tone and the statements of the newspapers, and of my countrymen generally, respecting his character and actions. It costs us nothing to be just. We can at least express our sympathy with, and admiration of, him and his companions, and that is what I now propose to do” (Thoreau, 1). Thoreau’s emphasis on morally justification of Brown’s actions is directly related to Abbey’s support of environmental terrorism since both illegal acts prevent the marginalization of minority groups in society. During the days of slavery in the United States, African Americans did not have a sociopolitical voice to resist their oppression similar to how the natural environment does not have an avenue to voice its opposition to the encroaching acts of mankind on natural resources as outlined in Rachel Carson’s work, Silent Spring. Following the thesis of Carson to educate the reader on the impact of environmental damage, both Abbey and Thoreau attempt to inform the reader on the dangers of marginalizing the environment and individuals. Each author also demonstrates anarchist tendencies for the liberation of oppressed peoples and nature.

Both Abbey and Thoreau also share similar philosophies regarding the ownership (or lack thereof) of property. In in essays and longer works, Thoreau strongly believes that no living thing can be owned. Abbey takes the same argument regarding the natural environment-since the natural world existed before human existence and is a living entity that operates according to its own laws,  it cannot be governed by others. The protection and sanctification of property is central to American culture which is why the limits property ownership can be a recurring debate in American politics. According to Abbey, the wilderness represents an opportunity for humanity to escape the steadily increasing reliance of society on technology and industrialism.

Works Cited

Thoreau, Henry David. “A Plea for John Brown”. 1859.

Hope in Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge

Written by naturalist, Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge intertwines the tragedies surrounding the death of Williams’ mother due to cancer and the flooding of the Bear River Migratory Bird Sanctuary. By relating her own personal tragedy to an environmental tragedy, Williams’s text addresses the issue of disaster within both human relationships and the natural environment.

In Williams’ memoir, her unification of environmental disasters with human tragedies such as cancer illustrates a more relatable case for environmental awareness than the more scientific diction found in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. While the empirical data Carson communicates to the reader is valuable to construct a well-informed individual position on environmental issues, Williams’ text offers a more novelistic approach to raising environmental awareness which effectively makes the material relatable to readers who may have previously been acquainted with the environmentalist movement.

The element of this work that I think really speaks to the reader is Williams’ portrayal of her mother’s battle with cancer. Unfortunately, cancer is a too familiar reality for many families. Personally, I would recommend this book to my uncle who was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was around twenty years old (he is healthy, and now in his early thirties). While I was very young at the time he was diagnosed, I vividly remember how his appearance drastically changed throughout treatment and how his diagnosis impacted the rest of the family. Now that I am around the age he was when he was diagnosed, I cannot imagine having to deal with such a life-threatening condition at such a young age when you should be excited about preparing for your future.

Williams’ mother, Diana’s, steadfast determination to maintain a positive attitude throughout her illness reminded me of my uncle’s unwavering commitment to living life to the fullest regardless of what hardships came his way. For example, the author decides to take her sick mother on a hike for a “change of scenery” (Williams, 158). Williams writes, “We reach the lake, only a mile and a half away, but each step for Mother is a triumph of will. She rests on her favorite boulder, a piece of granite I have known since childhood. She leans into the shade of the woods and closes her eyes. ‘This feels so good,’ she says as the wind circles her…” (Williams, 158). This scene in the text is one of many that illustrates how Diana seeks to find pleasure in the minute things in nature rather than dwelling on the complications of her illness. Both Diana and my uncles’ commitment to appreciating the smaller things in nature can be a lesson to many people (including myself) who sometimes miss the natural beauty of the natural environment. While my uncle could have given in to a depression due to his illness and given up on his education and friends, he persevered and graduated Fairfield University with his class. Similar to Diana’s tenacity in Refuge, my uncle’s ability to overcome a life-threatening illness has always proved to be an inspiration for me. Currently, he is a considerable supporter of the American Cancer Society and Livestrong.

William’s book Refuge is relatable to anyone who has experienced the devastation cancer inflicts. While cancer is a horrible disease, Williams’ book offers some hope to individuals who are dealing with the effects of cancer on themselves or on their loved ones. Williams introduces an interesting concept about the universality of cancer in that it can strike anyone regardless of race or socio-economic status. This quality of Refuge makes the work appealing to readers as an environmental and a philosophical work.

Silence in Solar Storms

Chickasaw writer and environmentalist, Linda Hogan, wrote Solar Storms which illustrates the life of a seventeen year old girl, Angela Jensen, who has lived in foster her whole life and is bothered by a scar that covers half of her face. In Solar Storms, Hogan fashions a dialogue that illustrates the non-fictional and fictional worlds of Native Americans and members of the preeminent white culture. Through this dialogue, Hogan utilizes this poetic language to depict the mystery and the pain caused by societal discrimination of Native Americans in an American society that does not value their cultural contributions to society.

Hogan incorporates the element of environmental awareness into her writing through her depiction of a girl who tries to fit into her environment considering her dislike of her scarred face and red hair. Angela’s search for her family continues this theme of searching for identity. Hogan’s use of dialogue is particularly meaningful due to her use of silence dispersed throughout the text. For example, Hogan leaves the main dialogue of the novel to explain the concept of dreaming: “Maybe the roots of dreaming are in the soil of dailiness, or in the heart, or in another place without words, but when they come together and grow, they are like the seeds of hydrogen and the seeds of oxygen that together create ocean, lake, and ice.” (Hogan, 171). While this section pays attention to the scientific compounds of the natural world as found in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, the use of silence in Solar Storms is almost more meaningful than the dialogue itself since it allows the reader to pause and to reflect on what message Hogan is trying to communicate.

Hogan’s use of silence reminded me of the French philosopher, Jacque Derrida’s, concept of semiotic analysis called deconstruction which I had learned about in a previous college philosophy course at Granite State College. Derrida’s philosophy of deconstruction discusses an inversion of social rank which is directly applicable to a reading of Hogan’s novel. In an American society that can discriminate against physical disfigurement and race, Angela becomes the “Other” in Solar Storms. As the Other, Angela is trying to find meaning in her own self-reflection (or self-consciousness) throughout the novel. In the opening of the novel, Angela (the narrator) describes her connection to nature: “The waterways on which I arrived had a history. They had been crossed by many before me. There were the French trappers and traders who emptied the land of beaver and fox.” (Hogan, 21). This passage depicts Angela’s connection to the history and significance of the natural environment. While she tries to find her place in society, Angela especially admires and connects to the established history of nature as she attempts to discover her own family’s history. Angela’s perception of everyone looking into her life that she yet feels absent from is particularly relatable to Derrida’s theory of deconstruction.

Silence in Solar Storms functions as a way for Angela to focus on her listening to her ancestors’ history. By listening, Angela exhibits a strength that falls in line with an ecofeminist reading of Hogan’s text since the work follows the journey of a young girl who has the willpower to overcome her physical disfigurement (which could also represent her displacement from family and society).

The Need for Education in Guha and Carson

In both of their books, both Ramachandra Guha and Rachel Carson emphasize the need for education about environmental issues. The tone of each work is to educate the reader on why environmental awareness is necessary for society.

In the section entitled “Needless Havoc” of Silent Spring, Carson writes that “The citizen who wishes to make a fair judgment of the question of wildlife loss is today confronted with a dilemma. On the one hand conservationists and many wildlife biologists assert that the losses have been severe and in some cases even catastrophic. On the other hand the control agencies tend to deny flatly and categorically that such losses have occurred, or that they are of any importance if they have. Which view are we to accept?” (Carson, 86). This “dilemma” that Carson writes of depicts her belief that the general public must have an educational basis on which to base their views on environmental issues. Throughout the text, Carson assumes an educational tone with her sections on pesticides and their impact on the environment. She also includes elements of historical context for the reader to learn to value the environment that has taken “hundreds of millions of years to produce the life that now inhabits the earth-eons of time in which that developing and evolving and diversifying life reached a state of adjustment and balance with its surroundings” (Carson, 6). Prior to reading Carson’s book, most individuals probably did not consider the time investment of the development of the natural environment.

Carson’s support for environmental education has manifested itself in numerous ways that are evident in contemporary society. The goals of the EPA, World Health Organization, and Practical Action, to name a few organizations, are to educate the general public regarding the needs of the environment and how the state of the environment affects daily life.

In addition to Carson’s work, Guha’s book also strives to educate the reader on the need for environmental awareness. Since many readers may initially question the need for the environmentalism movement, Guha clearly outlines why the global initiative is needed. Adopting the writing style of Carson, Guha also provides a historical section that discusses how the Industrial Revolution in nineteenth century England has had an impact on the environment today. Both Carson and Guha rely on historical examples and data to prove their case for environmental awareness.

Both authors emphasize the need for education to spark the beginning of the environmental movement. While these writings are also still relevant to contemporary society, environmental education classes are not always fit into school syllabuses while subjects such as biology and physics seem to be obvious components to a general education.

Imperialism and The Unsettling of America

In The Unsettling of America, environmental writer and poet Wendell Berry traces the impact of the white race on society. Berry writes, “One of the peculiarities of the white race’s presence in America is how little intention has been applied to it. As a people, wherever we have been, we have never really intended to be” (Berry, 3). Discovered during the fifteenth century Age of Exploration, America has been viewed as an industrial resource by European colonists.

Similar to writers of the Transcendentalist period, Berry is also concerned with the displacement of other cultures during the European colonization of North America. Regarding the Indians’ perception of land ownership, Berry observes, “The Indians did, of course, experience movements of population, but in general their relation to place was based upon old usage and association, upon inherited memory, tradition, veneration. The land was their homeland” (Berry, 4). This concept of a “homeland” that Berry outlines is a major concept in the role of imperialism in the settling of America. Berry’s interest in the Native Americans’ relationship to nature may have been inspired by the works of Henry David Thoreau who was also intrigued with the Native Americans’ way of life. In his major work, Walden, Thoreau connects to the almost savage qualities of the Native Americans who understood how mankind could be connected to nature.

Berry echoes this sentiment regarding the savage nobility of the Native Americans outlined by Thoreau. In the first section of The Unsettling of America, Berry disagrees with the commonly perceived superiority of European imperialism in North America. He writes, “This supposedly fortunate citizen is therefore left with only two concerns: making money and entertaining himself. He earns money, typically, as a specialist, working an eight-hour day at a job for the quality or consequences of which somebody else-or, perhaps more typically, nobody else-will be responsible” (Berry, 20). This passage illustrates how Berry views the consumerist aspect of Western civilization as a more hollow way of living that leaves the individual and community removed from the natural environment. Berry furthers his argument by writing that, “The fact is, however, that this is probably the most unhappy average citizen in the history of the world. He has not the power to provide himself with anything by money, and his money is inflating like a balloon and drifting away…” (Berry, 20). This statement outlines Berry’s view that the focus on consumerist agendas during the European conquest of the New World takes away from humanity’s relationship to nature due to the “average citizen’s” inability to be in direct contact with anything made with his own hands.

Berry defines to this way of life as the “specialist system” since everything is performed by an expert who can only do one thing which brings the quality of work down. He writes, “In living in the world by his own will and skill, the stupidest peasant or tribesman is more competent than the most intelligent worker or technician or intellectual in a society of specialists” (Berry, 21). While the term “stupid” traditionally has a negative connotation, Berry seems to admire the simplicity of a “tribesman” or a “savage” in a Thoreauvian context. This section of The Unsettling of America formulates Berry’s thesis that the simplification of consumerism and economy is a primary concern in rebuilding humanity’s connection to nature since the dawn of European imperialism in North America.

Gary Snyder and Environmentalism

In his award winning poetry collection Turtle Island, Gary Snyder advocates for environmental preservation and explores the relationship between man and nature. In his poems, Snyder never refers to nature in a critical fashion; he rather portrays nature’s magnificence and communicates the beauty of the wildness of nature that is to be admired and respected.

In the poem entitled “Without” within the “Manzanita” section, Snyder’s appreciation for nature’s wildness is particularly noticeable. He writes of the “silence of nature within. the power within. the power without” (Snyder, 6). Snyder’s recognition, yet his refusal to specifically name an example of nature’s power such as natural disasters that are not able to be controlled by mankind, he alludes to an almost metaphysical aspect of nature. This metaphysical unpredictability in Snyder’s poetry is similar to the works of the loosely grouped Metaphysical poets who wrote during the seventeenth century in England. In John Donne’s poem, “Metempsychosis”, Donne also explores the condition of exploitation as an aspect of nature that man shares with wildlife. Donne writes:

“He hunts not fish, but as an officer,

Stays in his court, as his own net, and there

All suitors of all sorts themselves enthral;

So on his back lies this whale wantoning,

And in his gulf-like throat, sucks everything

That passeth near.”

In Turtle Island, Snyder also pays homage to his interest in Native American culture and its relation to the natural world. To Gary Snyder and many of the Transcendentalist writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau the Native American culture provided an alternate way of life-separate from the traditional capitalist-centered Western culture that has a negative effect on aspects of nature that Snyder appreciates: wildness and environmental awareness.

In his poem, “Control Burn”, Snyder refers to how the Indians purified their natural environment rather than destroying it. He writes, “What the Indians here used to do, was, to burn out the brush every year. in the woods, up the gorges, keeping the oak and the pine stands tall and clear…” (Snyder, 19). In this poem, Snyder focuses on maintaining the cleanness of nature rather than sullying it with pesticides and manmade chemicals. Snyder uses “Fire” as a metaphor for purifying nature: “Fire is an old story. I would like, with a sense of helpful order, with respect for laws of nature, to help my land with a burn. a hot clean burn” (Snyder, 19). In this poem, Snyder emphasizes the necessity of evaluating the impact man’s presence has on nature. While the Native Americans appreciated the preservation of nature and strived to live in harmony with the environment, modern civilization lacks the knowledge and awareness regarding nature that Snyder holds the Native Americans in high regard for. Consequently, Snyder clearly considers himself to be akin with the primitiveness of Native American culture rather than the modern expectations for environmental awareness.

Is Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring Still Relevant In Today’s Society?

Published in 1962, Silent Spring was Rachel Carson’s endeavor to eliminate man-made pesticides that were destroying the natural environment. One of the first environmental works of its kind since the writings of Henry David Thoreau in the nineteenth century, Silent Spring helped to launch the environmentalism movement. Carson’s work further inspired government action and intervention to prevent further chemical damage to the environment.

Carson’s well-known book helped to establish the organic food movement, the elimination of BPA from plastic food and drinking containers, the founding of the EPA, as well as numerous other scientific and societal changes to improve the environment. By any standard, Rachel Carson can be considered an environmental crusader; however, are the environmental concerns she expressed in the 1960s still relevant in the twenty-first century?

Rachel Carson was born in 1907-World War II did not begin until the 1940s. This year marks Carson’s one hundred and tenth birthday. The natural and political environments were very different in the beginning of the twentieth century than they are in 2017. Yet, the impact from Carson’s book is still noticeable in this century and continues to have an impact on environmental awareness.

In the later half of Silent Spring, Carson adds a more poignant chapter entitled, “One in Every Four”. In her later years, Rachel Carson was diagnosed with breast cancer. It is interesting that she relates chemical pollution to cancer in the fourteenth chapter of her book. Carson writes, “As the tide of chemicals born of the Industrial Age has arisen to engulf our environment, a drastic change has come about in the nature of the most serious public health problems” (Carson, 187). This relationship adds a more sympathetic view to her work that appeals to a greater audience and inspires them to change.

Regardless of its publication in the late 1900s, Silent Spring remains relevant to current environmental issues since this text sparked environmentalism and offers readers important insight into the importance of respecting the natural world that took millenniums to develop. Should the U.S. government discard the Constitution merely because it was composed in 1787?No, the U.S. Constitution set important precedents of law that are vital to bind the country together. Silent Spring had the same effect on the environmental movement. In this book, Carson gives scientific evidence why mankind does not have the right to chemically destroy a planet that existed before humanity. Consequently, Carson’s environmental philosophy is still relevant to today’s society.