“The Word for World is Forest” Ursula K Le Guin

This post was developed and authored by Alison Schell 



Le, G. U. K. (1976). The word for world is forest. New York: Berkley Pub. Corp. 


After running out of resources on planet Earth, humans travel to the planet Athshe in hopes to find more resources and another chance at life. Upon arrival they discover that the planet is already inhabited by Athshean natives, but this does not stop them from taking what they want. As they begin to colonize this new planet, the humans disregard the culture, civilians and the natural world. They enslave, sexually assault, and even kill the natives, and begin the same processes of deforestation and destroying the environment on Athshe that caused their ruin on Earth. Captain Don Davidson sexually assaults a native woman named Thele, the wife of a native man named Selver, in an incident that caused her death. After losing his wife in such a tragic way, Selver comes to the realization that their once peaceful civilization must turn to the violent ways of their colonizers in order to save their planet and its inhabitants. He leads the Athsheans in a war against the Terran people, becoming a God in their eyes as he introduces violence to a once non-violent community. In the end, the Athsheans win the war to save their planet, but they lost the peace that was the center of their culture and lifestyle. “The World for War is Forest” contains several parallels from this science fiction story to the real world, presenting issues such as European colonization, the Vietnam war, and deforestation.  


  • CLIFFORD, J. (2011). RESPONSE TO ORIN STARN: “Here Come the Anthros (Again): The Strange Marriage of Anthropology and Native America.” Cultural Anthropology (Wiley-Blackwell)26(2), 218–224. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1548-1360.2011.01096.x  

Clifford reads “The Word for World is Forest” as a parallel or a microcosm that goes beyond the 1960s era in which it was written. He discusses Le Guin’s personal connection and scholarly background related to the history of California Indians, to prove her merit and show that her pieces of literature serve a purpose to recount and represent historically accurate information and experiences of natives both during past colonization and present day. He commends Le Guin for creating writing does not hold back from the harsh truth or distract from the damage caused by colonizers by creating a human protagonist or fully good white savior, but instead making it known that even those with more positive intentions such as the anthropologist still cause negative effects by intruding into a society in which they have no understanding of the culture. Clifford then highlights several parallels between characters and experiences in the book and real-life events but focuses mainly on the lasting effect that the humans had on Athshe even after the war was won and they were gone, and the accuracy in that parallel that Europeans and other colonizers create damage and changes to native societies that can never be repaired and that will never allow for natives to live in the same peace and lifestyle they originated from. 

  • DEBITA, G. (2019). The Otherworlds of the Mind: Loci of Resistance in Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Word for World Is Forest and Voices (Book II of the Annals of the Western Shore). Cultural Intertexts9, 46–67. 

In this academic essay, Debita explores Le Guin’s themes of resistance to colonization and invasion throughout several of her later works, going in depth on her analysis of “The Word for World is Forest” and “Voices”. She discusses the power behind literature such as these pieces, as all actions begin with a mindset and suggests that Le Guin’s pieces force the reader to understand what is happening currently and historically through the use of science fiction in order to change their mindset and broaden their perspectives on these issues. This analysis interprets the deeper meaning of “dreaming” and the spirituality and connectedness of all of the Athshean people and minds, and how the invasion and introduction of violent resistance effects not only the current natives, but also the future generations to come.  


  • GRISAFI, L. (2020). Living in the Blast Zone: Sexual Violence Piped onto Native Land by Extractive Industries. Columbia Journal of Law & Social Problems53(4), 509–539. 

Grisafi discusses both current and historical treatment and sexually assault of native women and how flaws in the United States justice system continues to allow their assaulters to go unpunished in this academic journal. She highlights real accounts and stories of Native American women and their experiences with rape and sexual harassment from white colonizers and white men in general. This journal breaks down the fundamental injustices within a system that is meant to provide safety and justice for all citizens and brings awareness to an issue that has been continuously swept under the rug for hundreds of years. Grisafi also provides statistics and facts on violence, force, and sexual assault shown toward indigenous women throughout time. Le Guin touches briefly on these topics when writing about Captain Don’s desires toward the native women and Thele’s sexual assault and murder in “The Word for World is Forest”, but this journal goes into depth to explain the horrors that indigenous women have and continue to face with no consequences for their attackers. 



Ursula K Le Guin uses a series of symbolism and microcosms to draw parallels between the characters and experiences in her novel “The Word for World is Forest” and real-life historical and current events. In her novel there is an initial invasion for resources which results in deforestation and the destruction of nature. After realizing that they have a better chance of survival on this new planet with more resources, the invaders begin to colonize. Their colonization has drastic effects on not only the environment, but also on the native people of this planet Athshe. Le Guin uses the characters experiences with sexual assault, murder, introduction to violence, loss of culture, war and slavery to symbolize the real-life effects of European colonization on Native Americans and several other groups of people. Each character or experience, from the rape and murder of Thele, to the development of Selver to “Sam”, to the seemingly pure intentions but ultimately harmful results of anthropologist Raj, conveys a very important message and bring light to an often skipped over part of history that seems to be continuously repeating itself. For years native people have suffered through these same things and this novel is meant to force readers to understand these issues by using fictional characters and setting in order for the reader to see the impacts of colonization from a nonpolitical or economical view, but simply to feel the harm that is caused by it. 


  1. How does Le Guin use characters and character development such as that of Selver to indirectly introduce the psychological effects of colonization on the native people? 
  2. Le Guin purposefully highlights the fact that Selver struggles to remember how to dream after adapting to the human workday. What does “dreaming” represent in the parallel to the real world and what statement is Le Guin trying to make by stating that Selver is losing this ability? Furthermore, what other long-term effects do we see this invasion have on the Athshean people and culture as a whole, and how does this relate to real world historic cultures that have had similar experiences? 
  3. Indigenous women often face sexual assault. Explore how Captain Don and Thele are examples of sexism, racism, and the way native women have been portrayed and treated throughout history.  



“Time Capsule Found on a Dead Planet” by Margaret Atwood

By: Phillip Goyette

Core text:

Atwood, M., Bacigalupi, P., Boyle, T. C., Litt, T., Millet, L., Mitchell, D., Rich, N., Robinson, K. S., Simpson, H., 1., W. M., McKibben, B., & Martin, M. (2011). Time Capsule Found on the Dead Planet. In I’m with the bears. essay, Verso.


Atwood’s “Time Capsule Found on a Dead Planet” is a fiction short story written about how the planet the author is on is now dead. It is divided into five parts where each part is a different “age.” The first age is the very beginning, where things were simple. Gods were carved out of wood and painted on temple walls. The people of the time believed that the gods brought good weather, harvest, and children. They were omnipotent and omniscient. The second age is where money was created, on one side of the coin was a famous mortal figure, while on the other side of the coin was to remind the people of the gods. The people would keep this money close to them, and although you could not eat it or wear it, like magic, it could be turned into those things. When the author gets to the third age, money had become a god. It controlled everything. It became everything to these people. It became the most important thing. In the fourth age, the author gets into how money has caused greed and how it has caused destruction to happen to the planet. In the fifth age, the author writes her last words as money has caused the destruction of this planet.



Atwood, M., Bacigalupi, P., Boyle, T. C., Litt, T., Millet, L., Mitchell, D., Rich, N., Robinson, K. S., Simpson, H., 1., W. M., McKibben, B., & Martin, M. (2011). Time Capsule Found on the Dead Planet. In I’m with the bears. essay, Verso.

Besides containing the short story, there is an about the author section which contains some interesting information about the author. It talks about how she is versed in many different forms of fiction and poetry. It also mentions some of her best-known novels that could be read and looked at.

Pan, Z. (2021). Climate change and global warming. Salem Press Encyclopedia of Science

This encyclopedia is full of information about climate change and its continuing effects. It defines what climate change is and gets into a lot of specifics of the issue. This is a great resource to use if you want to get more familiar with climate change and its effects on the earth. The article talks about how climate change is detected and likely scenarios that could occur. This all connects to Atwood’s short story, as climate change is what kills the planet. This encyclopedia will give you a better understanding of how climate change leads to the result at the end of the story.

Guardian News and Media. (2018, May 31). Margaret Atwood: Women will BEAR brunt of Dystopian climate future. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/31/margaret-atwood-women-will-bear-brunt-of-dystopian-climate-future.

This article gives insight and information about Margaret Atwood’s environmentalist and feminists views. In the article, she is quoted as saying “This isn’t climate change – it’s everything change…women will be directly and adversely affected by climate change.” She explains how the changing climate will lead to less food which means women and children will get less food. She even goes on to say that she predicts that the future will be like what she imagines in her fiction. This article gives you an idea of how she thinks as a writer and where she stands on certain issues. This is what inspires her to write.


The way that Atwood writes this short story makes it seem like it is a diary of some kind. This is a very effective way to pull the reader in and make them feel like you really are reading something that someone left in a time capsule. In this short story, the narrator is not technically the author. You do not get much of a sense of their personality, but the narrator seems to know everything that has happened throughout the ages. The setting is on a planet, and it is a physical place. When it comes to plot, you can see the rise and the fall throughout the different ages, with the 1st and 2nd age being the beginning and rising action respectively, the 3rd age being the climax, and the 4th and 5th ages being the falling action and resolution. The narrator seems to be the protagonist of the story, while the antagonist seems to be the society that destroys this planet. Some irony is used, like the line about thinking money could make you fly is repeated at the end of the story as the planet dies. The big ideas explored in this are climate change and the negative effects of money.

In the first paragraph of the first age, Atwood states that they carved gods out of wood when wood still existed. This is a nice way to foreshadow what is to come at the end of the story and sets an environmental tone right away.  In the second paragraph of the first age section, Atwood uses a metaphor for dew; “We smelled the earth and rolled in it; its juices ran down our chins.” The word choice is an interesting one and it paints a definitive picture in your mind. In that same paragraph, the titles “All-Knowing” and “Shining One” are capitalized, showing respect to these gods.

In the second age section, Atwood starts out by stating that money was created. This money is made from shining metals, just as the gods were carved out of them in the first age. Mentioning that the coins were being made from the same metal that the gods were being carved out of is a great way of showing that soon money would be reverend just as much as these gods. She mentions how money cannot be eaten or used for warmth, “but as if it by magic, it could be changed into such things.” This leads to the line saying that if you had enough money, it would be said that you could fly. This sets up the theme of age three which is money becoming a god, as it can bring humans unnatural things, like magic and the ability to fly.

In the 3rd age, money has taken over everyone’s lives. It has become the most important thing. Atwood says it is all-powerful, as she had described the gods earlier. The line, “It created greed and hunger, which were its two faces” is a great call back to money being a coin, and coins have two faces. She is saying money is evil. We are reminded of the environmental theme as she uses the metaphor of money “eating” forests and croplands. “To have it was a sign of grace” is also a callback to godly things.

In the 4th age, she talks about how deserts were made, wells were poisoned, and there was no more land for food to grow. At this point, money has caused too much greed. People have forgotten that this made-up currency does not mean anything if there is no planet to live on. The gods are not even mentioned because they have been completely forgotten about and money is the only thing that matters.

The 5th age addresses the person who finds this capsule. The planet is now officially dead. The last line, “Pray for us, who once, too, thought we could fly.”, is a call back to the 2nd age where it was said that if you had enough money, you could fly. Turns out, money is the reason the planet is now dead.

This short story, although fiction, speaks to a lot of things going on today in the real world. The whole story symbolizes Earth. You can easily see this planet is supposed to be Earth, and this happening to our planet can truly happen.


In the 3rd age, Atwood mentions how money has become a god. How do we see this manifested today? Think about how the want for money has impacted our environment.

Describe the setting of the story. How does the setting of the story make it more relatable to the readers? When talking about the deserts in the 4th age, what is she referring to?

What is the overall message of this short story to you? What do you think the author is trying to say? What message is she trying to get across? After looking over the resources, do you have a better idea of what climate change is and how Atwood thinks about it?

#Envornmental #Money #Greed # ClimateChange #EndOfTheWorld

The Parable of The Talents

The parable of Talents is a fascinating book that has attracted a great deal of attention from different people, including readers and authors. It has several unique features in many aspects, mainly information and idea structure and presentation. Although it is fictitious, the story is presented so that everybody can accept it or think it is a true story. Parable of the Talent is a science fiction novel written in 1998 by American author Octavia E. Butler.


Butler, Octavia E. (1998). Parable of the talents: a novel. New York: Seven Stories Press


The Parable of the Talents: A Visual Journey. (n.d.). Retrieved August 7, 2021, from Five Talents website: https://fivetalents.org/videos/2018/6/20/the-parable-of-the-talents-a-visual-journey

The Parable of the Talents. (n.d.). Retrieved August 7, 2021, from www.churchofjesuschrist.org website: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/media/video/2014-01-0001-the-parable-of-the-talents?lang=eng





The second book of the Parable trilogy that came to light after Butler, who experienced the author’s coalition, is Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler, a work of science fiction and the follow-up to Parable the Sower, and which focused her creative attention elsewhere. It is a post-apocalyptic series that has destroyed climate change, corporate greed, and wealth inequality. Lauren Oya Olamina, the main character of the first book, has the power of hyper empathy and the ability to share the pain and feelings of others. Parables of the Talents is about the persecution of the Earthseed religion, and ultimately it covers the success of the Earthseed. Parable of the Talent takes up a new character, the daughter of Lauren Olamina called Larkin, who reads and thinks about her mother’s journals to assist her in dealing with her sorrow following her mother’s death. The book portrays the traditional role of internal themes of social isolation and transcendence, violence and spirituality, slavery and liberty, separation, and communities, which is now an established community that thrives to survive.

In Parable of the Talents, Larkin is dealing with the death of her mother, Lauren Olamina. Larkin believes her mother was a misguided prophet who had a passionate belief and, over the top, neglected her family, especially her children. The novel retrieves some of the events of Earthseed, including Olamina’s philosophy, and talks of the State of America, when Olamina was an active religious leader in the early 21st century. America was chaotic and quickly dismantled in the early 21st century. The President enrolled Christian America as a fanatical religion for all citizens, and gangs of corruptors devastated gated communities in Los Angeles, including Olamina’s Acorn Community. Much of this is reported in the journals of Olamina, which Larkin reads and reflects on. Lamina talks of Earthseed’s foundation, a community that she creates to counteract the chaos that she sees. The founding principle of the Earthseed is “God is the Change,” which means that people are to control their destinies. Taylor, a doctor of Larkin’s father, urged Olamina to leave the Acorn community for her family in a safer way, but she was determined to spread Earthseed philosophy at any cost. The Acorn was raided, Taylor murdered and Olamina enslaved by radical religious crusaders. Larkin was taken to a Christian family and raised and was renamed, Asha Vere.

The book continues by raising Larkins’ experience away from his mother and connecting him with Marcus, his mother’s brother, a Christian who loved his sister but had been in conflict about his alternative system of belief and fanatical behavior. At the same time, Larkin reads her mother’s journals to learn about her escape from slavery to begin a settlement in Oregon. Larkin tells the story of the US president and his Christian Army’s downfall. Larkin’s uncle Marcus lies about reconnecting Olamina to her; he does not say they are related to Olamina or Larkin. When the truth comes out, Larkin is devastated by the lying of her uncle, and Olamina rejects her brother because of her child. The book ends with Olamina’s death and her ashes scattered through the stars according to her will. Her death comes when her followers in the Earthseed board a starship bound to another solar system, in which they think that they will eventually escape religious persecution. Olamina, too old, stays behind and dies watching the starboard launch. Olamina reflects her belief system. The book ends, ironically, by citing a passage from the gospel of Saint Matthew.

Butler, O. E. (2019). Parable of the talents. In Open WorldCat. Retrieved from https://www.worldcat.org/title/parable-of-the-talents/oclc/1048445128&referer=brief_results

The highly optimistic source brings the prompt message of hope and resistance against fanatism in the highly regarded novel, which is more relevant than ever. Thus, the brilliant and brutally powerful 1998 Earthseed novel Parable of Talents is presented by Octavia Butler. The author expresses how Lauren Olamina survived the destruction of her homes and family in 2032 (Butler, 2019). Based on her newly founded faith, Earthseed, she realized her view on a peaceful community in northern Calif. The emerging community is a shelter to outcast persecution following the election of an ultra-conservative president who vows to make America great again.

Parable of the Talents. (n.d.). Retrieved August 7, 2021, from sevenstories.com website: https://www.sevenstories.com/books/3951-parable-of-the-talents

This source is a highly respected journal that offers an insight on Celebration Butler’s topics in the shockingly familiar, broken world of 2032, alienation, transcendence, violence and spirituality, slavery and freedom, separation, and communion (Butler, nd). The author talks about the story concerning the voice of the daughter of Lauren Olamina, from whom she is separated with sections in the form of Lauren’s journal for most of his life. Based on a war-torn continent and an extreme right-wing religious crusader in the office of the US presidency, this is an extract from a society that has been thrown into chaos, and that seems almost impossible to meet the basic physical and emotional needs of individuals.

Fiction Book Review: Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler, Author Seven Stories Press $24.95 (365p) ISBN 978-1-888363-81-4. (n.d.). Retrieved August 7, 2021, from PublishersWeekly.com website: https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-888363-81-4

According to Butler (2021), a black teenager Lauren Olamina grew up in an America which was tearing apart in the 21st century. Global warming, huge unemployment and corporate greed all unite to disrupt society and California’s poor southern neighborhood. The author states that Lauren is a victim of hyper empathy, a disorder in which her victims sense the pain of others and find themselves homeless and alone in a brutal society. Lauren escaped the urban jungle and started Acorn, a hard-working, prosperous rural community based on the lessons of Earth-seed, a religion that she founded and based on believe in the change of God and the destiny of humanity.


The literary device analysis from The Parable of the Talents, which appeared in the Gospels of the New Testament of Matthew and Luke at times, called the Parable of the Minas, shows how ordinary persons seem to benefit from the blessings of God. The parable starts with a master who entrusts his servants with ‘talents’ before taking a long journey. The Parable of the Talents can glean a lot of lessons. This parable is valid today as it was a thousand years ago, which explains the role of opportunity, hard work, and accountability in our everyday lives.  The Parable of the Talent gives lessons on how you can change those you love most. The parable could change people’s commitment to God’s Word and how unique blessings are applied to everyday life.

The three possible prompts for discussion on the Parable of the Talent includes

Considering the comforts and safety of Acorn and the fact that he was rescued by his long-lost sister and saved him from a life of bondage, why does Marcus think he refuses Earthseed and risks his life to strike himself? Why did he find it so difficult to embrace and understand the aims of Lauren Olamina? Why does the Christian America organization not believe that Lauren and Acorn may be cruel? After Marcus has discovered Larkin/Asha Vere and established a deep family relationship, he intentionally decides not to let Olamina know her daughter. Why does Larkin preserve everything for him?

Olamina’s daughter Larkin is resentful because she thinks Earthseed’s mother is more important than the family. After all, her mom, husband, and baby had an opportunity to relocate to a remote seaside village and start a new life that could have been safer. Do you agree or disagree with the decision of Olamina to stay in Acorn and remain devoted to its ideals and objectives and her foundation? In your opinion, what obligation is more important? What remarks about the family do it make regarding the youth of Lauren Olamina compared to the childhood of Larkin and Asha Vere and the family structure established in Acorn before it has been demolished?

The five hashtags on social media that can be used to categorize the main topic in the Parable of the Talent includes,

# We are not all formed with the same abilities, opportunities, and skills.

# Success occurs when we take action.

# When we work, our efforts must be directed towards God rather than our pleasure and goal.

# God provides us with everything we need to do.

# We will be held accountable.


Butler, O. E. (2019). Parable of the talents. In Open WorldCat. Retrieved from https://www.worldcat.org/title/parable-of-the-talents/oclc/1048445128

Fiction Book Review: Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler, Author Seven Stories Press $24.95 (365p) ISBN 978-1-888363-81-4. (n.d.). Retrieved August 7, 2021, from PublishersWeekly.com website: https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-888363-81-4

Parable of the Talents. (n.d.). Retrieved from sevenstories.com website: https://www.sevenstories.com/books/3951-parable-of-the-talents









Silent Spring, Rachel Carson

By Olivia Zoolalian

Core Text 

Carson, R., Lear, L., & Wilson, E. O. (2002). Silent Spring (Anniversary ed.). Houghton Mifflin Company. 



“The classic that launched the environmental movement”. Carson’s Silent Spring paved a new way for environmental issues to be heard. Carson combined science and fiction into her writing to create an opportunity to change the way people think about and treat the environment. She uses her platform to highlight the negative effect of chemicals that were apart of US agriculture. Carson used this book to bring environmental consciousness into people’s minds. Within just the first chapter Carson uses a science fiction approach, to bring awareness to the birds no longer chirping, and the roadsides being no longer beautiful. Although this place she speaks of is not real, she preaches that it will become a reality if there isn’t a change made. This first chapter serves as a call to action, only making the rest of her book where she focuses on insecticides and waste, more impactful. Carson wastes no time to make her intentions clear behind this book, which makes her words more meaningful throughout the rest of her work. 


Literary Devices 

Throughout Carson’s “Silent Spring” readers are able to get a feel for her work and really imagine living in the town that she describes in the beginning of her book. Carson allows us to not only see what the town would be like, but she also brings deeper meaning into it, by relating it to what we citizens could live through if no one takes action. She uses the reader’s attention, gained from the first fictional chapter, to inform the world on why this may happen and what we can do to prevent it.


Foreshadowing: Foreshadowing can be seen in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, most importantly in the first chapter. Carson used this by creating a fictional town and describing its changes in environment, and how it looks and feels. Because this is not a real town she is speaking of, her whole idea is to send a message that is foreshadowing our real future planet. She uses this in order to grab readers attention and want them to keep reading to find out why this could happen.

Imagery: Carson uses imagery when painting a clear picture of this made up town she speaks of. The way she describes the scenery of this town makes it easy to picture it visually in our minds. For example, “The roadsides, once so attractive, were now lined with browned and 249 withered vegetation as though swept by fire.” Descriptions like that excerpt, make it easy for any reader to clearly see what she is describing.

Conflict: This story is created with intentions on highlighting the conflicts between humans and nature. The town in the beginning of the story is destroyed by humans. Humans are blamed for destroying land, trees, even the air. This story reflects on a deeper conflict that is a real-life conflict still occurring now, which is climate change, pollution, and deforestation. Carson allows us to see a fictional conflict, arise to reality.



 Lear, L. (1993). Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”. Environmental History Review, 17(2), 23-48. doi:10.2307/3984849. 

  • Within this journal article, Lear puts an emphasis on Rachel Carson’s intelligence. She highlights Carson’s achievement on inspiring a cultural revolution, something she definitely did not expect. Lear goes through Carson’s whole timeline briefly, and mentions her time spent outdoors when she was young, leading to her work at Fish and Wildlife Service, which is a bit foreshadowing to what she had later become. Lear labels her work of Silent Spring, an “overnight sensation” after stating in her book, “every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from the moment of conception until death”. He emphasized Carson’s accusations flowing all across the world, where she would get love and hate, to where Time Magazine charged the book an “emotional and inaccurate outburst”. Despite many complaints and hatred surrounding this book, Lear emphasizes his love for this book and what it had done historically. 

Pollock, C. (2001). Silent Spring Revisited: A 21st-Century Look at the Effect of Pesticides on Wildlife. Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery, 15(1), 50-53. Retrieved August 6, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/30136866 

  • In this article, Christal Pollock, takes a look at Carson’s Silent Spring in a 21st Century stand point. Although Carson was not the first to take awareness to the use of pesticides, Pollock, as well as others, surely agree that Carson’s approach was definitely more heard with all the discredit Carson received, Pollock makes it a point that it only gave her and Silent Spring more public awareness. Pollock takes a look at what these dangerous chemicals have done within the later years, and highlights that he feels it would have been worse if Carson hadn’t written Silent Spring. Pollock emphasizes Carson’s idea of the birds no longer chirping, to where birds’ eggs are growing thinner now, resulting to hatching failure. Pollock preaches that she hopes people these days will raise their voices like Carson and take action when toxicity can be diagnosed. She wishes to keep the public aware, following in the footsteps of Rachel Carson. 

Smith, M. (2001). “Silence, Miss Carson!” Science, Gender, and the Reception of “Silent Spring”. Feminist Studies, 27(3), 733-752. doi:10.2307/3178817

  • In this article, the author, Michael Smith, states his stand point on Carson’s controversial work of Silent Spring. Unlike most, Smith sees her as a threat because she is a woman. He argues that Carson received these threats because she was a woman, “an independent scholar whose sex and lack of institutional ties placed her outside the nexus pf the production and application of conventional scientific knowledge” (Smith, 2001). Smith highlights that with all the controversy surrounding Carson’s bold accusations about the environment, no one has yet to scrutinized the gendered nature of the criticism received. Smith believes that not only is the conflict of her work between human and nature, it is also male versus female. Michael Smith also goes as far to examine the criticism Carson has receive. He highlights that they are all written by men who call her emotional and an amateur. This article is different from the others that are out there because Smith focuses on a different outlook.

Discussion Questions 

 How can you see gender as a contributing factor to the hate and discredit Carson received from writing Silent Spring?  

 In your opinion, what does a “Silent Spring” mean to Carson, and secondly, what does it mean to you? 

 Do you think Carson’s use of a fictional approach in the first chapter made her book more effective or less effective? Explain why. 


#pesticides, #climatechange, #science, #environmentalism, #insecticide


“Time Capsule Found on the Dead Planet,” Margaret Atwood, Environmentalism

By Maddy Goslee


Atwood, Margaret. “ Time Capsule Found on the Dead Planet.”

Norgaard, Richard B. “Beyond Materialism: A Coevolutionary Reinterpretation of the Environmental Crisis.”

Murphy, Patrick D. “The Procession of Identity and Ecology in Contemporary Literature.”

MORRIS, DAVID COPLAND. “Inhumanism, Environmental Crisis, and the Canon of American Literature.”


The short story describes the rise, thrive, and fall of a planet through a letter found within a time capsule on the dead planet itself. The author launches herself into the future, having the story appear as though someone has landed on this planet and is reading about it’s horrific past and means of extinction. 

The short story is written in four ages, each of which explains either the rise or fall of the planet. Within the first age, the author illustrates the gods that humans once believed in. This appears to be the beginning of time, where gods were worshipped above all else. The gods were considered All-Knowing, and were able to place harm or comfort upon the people. In this stage, the gods were seen as occasionally cruel and drank human blood, but also kind in offering good harvest and sunshine.

The second and third age follows the creation of money. These stages begin the fall of the planet. The money  was all that was left of the gods at this point in time, and eventually took place of them altogether. The money was seen as magical due to its ability to be exchanged for food or clothing. Money became such a glorified object that a story was created; the story went that if you had enough money, you could fly. With this view, money became increasingly powerful. As money became more powerful, so did an individual’s hunger and greed for it. This caused wars to begin, people to die, and the world to see great destruction.

In the fourth age deserts were created. These deserts were an aftermath of the wars people fought over money. At this stage, people are wreaking the consequences of losing sight of the importance of the gods and the land. As the story comes to a close, the letter asks for someone to pray for those who fell victim to materialism. This letter also serves as a warning by sharing the fate of this dead planet.

Within these various ages of the short story, Atwood seeks to shed light on the potential consequences of misplacing one’s values. In the story, the world thrives when the gods and land are of focus, and dies once money enters the picture. In this sense, the story proposes that humans should prioritize the environment and spiritual world over a materialistic one.

Literary Analysis:

This story uses a first person point of view to directly tell the history of the dead planet to readers. This choice to write in first person helps strengthen the wise-tale style that Atwood aims to bring in this piece. “Time Capsule Found on the Dead Planet” falls under environmental literature and appears to hold dystopian elements in the text as well. It remains environmental because it moves through time to show the deterioration of a planet, and dystopian because of how the land is taken over by monetary values and maintains an ominous undertone throughout most of the story. The point of view, undertone and genre all serve to illustrate the warning message that Atwood aims to share. Along with these elements, she uses literary devices such as personification, hyperbole, flashback, imagery, and tone to further her message. Atwood personifies the money to appear human, causing mass destruction to all those around it. The money both created and ate things. This personification serves as a way to show the power money had over humanity. This personification also works as hyperboles as well. Even if money was alive, it is clearly unlikely that it could eat “whole croplands, forests, and the lives of children” (Atwood 3). Atwood uses exaggeration in this way though to once again express how powerful money became in the human world. This entire story is written as a flashback which allows readers to feel as if they are listening to a story told by their own friend, making the story resonate with more people. Lastly, imagery is used to illustrate the extent of the destruction on the planet. It explains the deserts as being of several kinds, “some were made of cement, some were made of various poisons, some of baked earth” (Atwood 3). Using these literary devices with other aspects of the novel, Atwood makes her warning message bold. Her advice to readers is to not fall victim to materialism as the inhabitants of her story, but rather to remain faithful to spirituality and the environment that stands before us.

This image serves as a visual for a time capsule.

Annotated Bibliography:

Norgaard, Richard B. “Beyond Materialism: A Coevolutionary Reinterpretation of the Environmental Crisis.” Review of Social Economy, vol. 53, no. 4, 1995, pp. 475–492. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/29769816. Accessed 5 Aug. 2021.

This article discusses materialism and how it drives humanity’s environmental crisis. It goes into detail about how materialism creates our environmental problems and limits our vision of the good life. The authors find that becoming knowledgeable on this concept is a step in the right direction towards a better future. These ideas come with the environmental movements aim to slow materialism so that it does not take over every aspect of our lives


Murphy, Patrick D. “The Procession of Identity and Ecology in Contemporary Literature.” SubStance, vol. 41, no. 1, 2012, pp. 77–91., www.jstor.org/stable/23261104. Accessed 14 Aug. 2021.

This author looks at how contemporary environmental novels question human perception, preconception, and misconceptions about the nature of nature. He attempts to get reading thinking about what inhabiting earth truly means, rather than just living on it. He challenges how humans generate their perceptions of the realities unfolding around them. He especially focuses on what prevents humans from thinking in an ecological manner regarding planetary events happening around them.


MORRIS, DAVID COPLAND. “Inhumanism, Environmental Crisis, and the Canon of American Literature.” Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, vol. 4, no. 2, 1997, pp. 1–16. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/44085493. Accessed 14 Aug. 2021.

This article examines in detail various literary figures and what they have contributed to environmental literature. The author looks at individuals such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and various inhumanist writers, such as Robinson Jeffers. The author David Morris especially looks at the term inhumanism and how this new stance towards nature may be necessary to have in order to resolve the environmental crisis we are in. This perspective asks humans to shift focus onto the external world and to acknowledge its significance. It emphasizes how humans are not meant to dominate nature, but rather work towards living within nature and coinciding with it peacefully. Morris uses the findings of these authors as well as this broad term to express the importance of altering our mindsets to be more aware of nature and how we affect it.

Discussion Questions:

  • The story states midway through that if humans had enough money, “you would be able to fly.” By the end of the novel, we learn that this is in fact not true. What did Atwood mean by this statement and what undertones did she use to convey that message? Can you think of any other stories that involved humans flying and ended similarly? 
  • Atwood writes this story in ages, creating a timeline which pinpoints important aspects of the history of the planet. Why do you believe she does this and what does it do for the text as a whole? Does it change the tone, offer specific emotion for readers, or make the text resonate more in any way? Consider these possibilities and more.
  • The story stems from a time capsule that inhabitants of the dead planet left for someone in the future to find. As we read, we learn that it is a sad tale. If you had to create a time capsule for our world today, what would you include in it and why? What would you want future humans to know about our world? 

 #materialism #enviromentalism #dystopian #spirituality #greed


A White Heron by Sarah Orne Jewett: Nature and Femininity

By Samantha McDonough 

Core Text: 

Jewett, Sarah Orne. A White Heron and Oter Stories. HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN, 1887. 


Jewett’s A White Heron was first published in 1886 and has become one of the author’s most famous short stories. The story follows a young girl named Sylvia who lives with her grandmother on a small farm surrounded by forest. Sylvia’s life revolves around her love for nature and spends her days helping her grandmother with farm chores and mingling with the forest animals. Her life is peaceful and fulfilling and the young girl feels as though she belongs in nature. However, when a young hunter arrives, looking to capture the rare white heron, Sylvia begins to shift in her comfortability. Sylvia, despite her initial fear and shyness around the hunter, begins to develop love for him and agrees to help him locate the bird. Sylvia is forced to confront her connection to nature and desire for a ‘normal life’. Her overwhelming desire to protect wildlife and explore nature begin to take precedence over her wants of money and romantic love. Sylvia’s journey in A White Heron questions a young girl’s relationship to the natural world, life-altering decisions and feelings of regret. 


South Berwick, Maine which is where Jewett’s family was from. Jewett has said that many of her short stories are based in the area where she grew up. Sylvia in A White Heron may be based on a younger Sarah Orne Jewett.

The White Heron


This video depicts the White Heron, more commonly known as the Great Egret, which is the bird Jewetts story is focussed around. The birds are a magnificent sight, standing at around three feet tall, and a five foot wingspan. The sighting of this bird is understandably rare for the characters in our story, as they are not typically localized in Maine. 

Literary Analysis: 

On the surface, this is simply a story about a young girl who is deeply connected to nature and is protecting a white heron from a male hunter. Jewett uses symbolism and other literary devices to address issues of womanhood, environmentalism, and personal growth, The story focuses on womens’ inherent ability to focus on the importance of nature and the parallels between the oppression of women by the patriarchy and the exploitation of nature. Sylvia, who can be looked at as the feminine perspective, has a deep admiration for nature and birds and is entranced by the white heron. Jewett uses Sylvia as a device to describe the feminine outlook on nature. The hunter can be looked at as the masculine or patriarchal perspective and also claims to have admiration for the bird, but is hunting with the intention of killing it. Sylvia, or the feminine perspective, takes on a motherly and preserving role for nature, while the patriarchy seeks to monetize, comotify and benefit from nature. Jewett also addressed Sylvia’s internal struggle between following her passion (nature) and her instinctive desire for love, of which she feels for the first time in her childhood with the hunter. 


WESS, ROBERT. “Geocentric Ecocriticism.”, Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, vol. 10, no. 2, 2003, pp. 1–19. www.jstor.org/stable/44086141

In this journal, author Robert Wess discusses the concept of geocentric ecocriticism and how we can look at works of literature through this lens. Wess argues that “to humanize the nonhuman is to anthropocentrize it and in that sense to falsify it.” Wess connects this concept to A White Heron in his analysis of the story where discusses the actions of Sylvia, the hunter, and Sylvia’s grandmother. He talks about the hunter’s connection to nature and how it is damaging to nature itself. He also criticizes Sylvia’s connection to nature as well, despite its typical analysis being pure and protecting. Wess looks critically at her relationship to nature, arguing that her love of nature, in of itself, is selfish. This article offers an interesting perspective to the deep roots of human relation to nature. 

Pratt, Annis. “Women and Nature in Modern Fiction.”, Contemporary Literature, vol. 13, no. 4, 1972, pp. 476–480, www.jstor.org/stable/1207443 

In this journal, Annis Pratt analyses women’s relation to nature in numerous stories, including Jewett’s A White Heron. Pratt goes into detail in her analysis of Slyvia’s decisions and how they relate to her connection to nature and her own desires. Pratt discusses the internal struggle that Sylvia undergoes as a result of her interactions with both the hunter and the white heron. She is at a crossroads in her mind and is torn between her internal desire for romantic love with a man and her deep connection with nature. Pratt discusses the underlying connection women in literature have with nature and how that can be recognized in popular fiction.

Held, George. “Heart to Heart with Nature: Ways of Looking at ‘A White Heron.’” Colby Quarterly , vol. 18, no. 1, Mar. 1982, pp. 55–65. 

George Held, in this article, looks deeper at A White Heron and analyzes the text’s literary significance through a new lens. Held analyzes Jewetts literary devices and how they are used to further the underlying themes of the story. He looks at how the symbolism in Sylvia and the hunter characters develop throughout the story and how that lends to themes of gender, feminism, and personal growth. 

Discussion Questions:

  • How does Sylvia’s perception of nature differ from that of the hunter? How does the hunter’s anthropocentric perception of nature affect his actions toward it?
  • Despite this story being written much earlier than the large environmental movement began, how does Jewett communicate themes of environmentalism throughout the story? 
  • How does Sylvia’s difficulty with her decision to help the Hunter relate to her socialized gender roles?

Remember by Joy Harjo

By: Nicole Taylor, Christina Cylc, and Kylie Davis

Pictured above is author Joy Harjo.

Core Text:

Remember.” Copyright ©1983 by Joy Harjo from ‘She Had Some Horses’ by Joy Harjo. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.


‘Remember’ written by Joy Harjo is a poem that gives the understanding that everything in life is connected somehow. Harjo talks to her readers as if she was giving them a life lesson.  The poem is incredibly detailed and allows readers to picture what is being discussed in the poem as if they are there. In this poem, Harjo writes about nature and how it relates to humans. The author also emphasizes the importance of remembering one’s roots, meaning the ancestors and the struggles they have endured to lead to your existence eventually. One of the most significant elements Harjo emphasizes is ‘identity.’ She wants everyone to remember that our identity comes from recalling our past. Without mistakes or troubles, you can’t be as educated or intelligent. Fascinatingly enough, Harjo has a way of making the title of her poem leave the reader with a task of finding out precisely what Harjo wants you to ‘Remember.’ 

Pictured above is a decorated version of the poem.

Teacher resources:

bycrazzybharath3696, P. (2021, June 7). Remember by JOY HARJO Poem analysis and summary. Unread Poets Society. https://unreadpoetssociety.com/2020/10/30/remember-by-joy-harjo-poem-analysis/. 

This source above was chosen because it details the author Joy Harjo while interpreting the poem line by line. This source is credible and accurate when describing the history of Harjo and the meaning behind each line of the poem. Whenever I struggled to understand a line from ‘Remember,’ I relied on this source to walk me through a different perspective of what the line’s meaning was. I would recommend this source to anyone who would like to scan for the poem or find the meaning of the words used. The interpretation line by line is easier for someone who may not comprehend poetry well. The explanation provided is in-depth yet straightforward. 

Forbes Jack D. Forbes, Jack D. “Indigenous Americans: Spirituality And Ecos.” American Academy of Arts & Sciences. 2021. Web. 04 Aug. 2021.


This source was chosen because it provides good insight into Native American culture. This is closely related to this poem for a few reasons; one being that the author is a part of the Muscogee tribe, which allows us to really understand what she is trying to communicate in her writing. Another reason that this is so closely related to the poem is because this article discusses the history behind the Native American culture and explains how and why they place emphasis on a connection between human and earth. It discusses how they refer to the earth as ‘Mother Earth,’ who is a living being and has provided humans with ‘her’ gifts. The text also informs readers how many indigenous people see the world as a beautiful creation that is extremely powerful and has feelings. This aligns with some of the messages in the poem about being thankful for the earth. Another topic that is touched on is the importance of family and respecting one’s ancestors, which is communicated in Harjo’s poem. Overall this source is very important because it allows readers to to fully understand the poem by informing them of the history and culture behind it. 

“Incredible Bridges: “Remember” by Joy Harjo.” Poets.org. Academy of American Poets. Web. 04 Aug. 2021.


I chose this source above for a couple of reasons. As a future teacher, this source stuck out to me because of the layout. It takes the poem ‘Remember’ and goes through a lesson plan. In this Source, you can see the literary standards that could align with the poem and lesson. The source would be helpful because it looks at Indigenous / African Americans inside the lesson plan related to Joy Harjo. Since she comes from a tribal background and is considered Indigenous, it pairs together nicely. Also, one of the best parts about this source is the video that is included. In the video, you can see Joy Harjo herself reading her poem ‘Remember.’ This is an excellent source for someone to view if they would like to see her and hear her voice over her work. 

“Joy Harjo’s Inaugural Reading as U.S. Poet Laureate.” doi:10.3998/mpub.10584.cmp.3. 

We decided to choose this source because of the focus on Joy Harjo, the poet. We also chose this source because it mentions some of her more famous works and describes them (summarizes them) by telling what her purpose was for each one and her style while writing it. Harjo received just about every notable poetry award that she could receive from the literary world. All of her work is a way of sharing her survival and uses nature to structure her work. In Harjo’s writings, she refers to herself witnessing events when she says “I,” and she will more often use “we” as her way of saying she was physically there; she was involved. Harjo likes to be brutal with her work; she is a political poet and exposes the truth about the world. Harjo investigates your responsibility toward your culture and the fear of being buried under its weight. This source would be beneficial for someone who wanted to learn more about her way of writing and the reasons behind her poems. 

“Joy Harjo.” Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation. Web. 05 Aug. 2021.


This source was chosen to provide more of a detailed description of the author Joy Harjo and her life. Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, OK. She is a member of the Muscogee nation and has earned her BA from the University of New Mexico. Most often, Harjo’s poetry focuses on feminism and social justice while incorporating our nation’s history as well. Her work also focuses on nature and centers around the need for “remembrance and transcendence. Harjo says that she feels that her writing is a way for her to free herself and that writing poetry is her way of fulfilling the responsibility to the “sources” that she is. Harjo is a critically-acclaimed poet winning many awards and was named U.S. poet laureate in June of 2019. She first started publishing poetry in yeaHarjo was considered with r 1975, and her first volume was a chapter book that contained nine different poems in the volume. As mentioned in previous sources, Harjo was concerned with politics and keeping tradition in poetry. She often tends to explore her heritage while creating poetry. 

“Critique of JOY Harjo’s Remember – Free Courseworks Examples.” Woodstock Online. 13 Mar. 2020. Web. 13 Aug. 2021.


This source is a critique of the Poem “Remember” by Harjo. This lyric poem focuses on what is needed to become human, including remembering your roots and connecting to nature.  This poem connects to today’s world by telling us to observe our surroundings and keeping cultural traditions. Harjo often repeats “remember” throughout the poem and wants us to remember our family members before us, who have had so many responsibilities. In this poem, Harjo repeats several aspects of nature, hinting that connecting to nature can benefit your body. She refers to these aspects of nature as “she’ which alludes to the readers that the female gender is more prominent in this poem. She tries to focus on people communicating and interacting with your culture. Harjo also tells her readers to look back at the past and see what lessons they have learned. She tries to tell her readers that even though some of those experiences may have been bad, they should still never forget them. Always remember your past, and learn from it, the good and the bad. 

Joy Harjo, and Tanaya Winder. Soul Talk, Song Language : Conversations with Joy Harjo. Wesleyan University Press, 2011. EBSCOhost,  search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=sso&db=nlebk&AN=399905&site=ehost-live 

This source is found on Millersville University’s library database. It is an article written about an interview conducted with Joy Harjo, the author of ‘Remember,’ and many other poems and texts. The interview with Harjo touches on many different things. Because she has a solid connection to her Native American heritage. A lot of that is communicated through her writing. During the interview, Harjo is asked to reflect on her upbringing and how her roots have shaped her into the author she is today. She is very proud of her heritage and wants this to be apparent to her readers.

Literary analysis & literary devices:

Overall, ‘Remember’ uses many literary devices to communicate the author’s message that humans are with the earth. Each line has a different meaning and says many things, even in the few words written. Harjo uses repetition at the beginning of every stripe to emphasize the importance of remembering such things as your ancestors or where you came from. The author also uses many literary devices in her poems. There are many uses of metaphors, comparing humans to part of the earth. She also uses personification in her writing to further prove that nature is alive and not just something humans should take for granted. This poem is a free verse poem. Being a free verse poem, there is no rhyme scheme, metrical pattern, or musical form. This poem also gives the author a more significant opportunity to write how they wish, without meeting specific requirements. In ‘Remember,’ the only part that often repeats is the word remember. Harjo uses this word to start many lines and to get the meaning of her poem across. Throughout the poem, ‘Remember,’ one of the literary devices present often is enjambment. This is when the poet decides to cut off a line before its natural stopping point. Specific locations where this occurs are the transition between lines four and five and lines twelve and thirteen. One more major section where this happens is in the final lines of the poem. The purpose of enjambment is used to allow ideas to continue beyond the limitations of one line… it is also to reinforce specific concepts within any of the lines themselves. 

Examples Of Literary Devices From The Poem

  • Repetition: 

The word ‘Remember’ is said at the beginning of each line.

  • Metaphor: 

Line 11 “Remember the earth whose skin you are.” She is comparing the reading to the earth. 

Lines 14-16 “Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their tribes, their families and their histories too. Talk to them, listen to them. They are alive poems.” Harjo is comparing nature to “alive” poems. 

  • Personification: 

Line 3 “Remember the moon, know who she is.” 

Line 17-18 “Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the origin of this universe.”

  • Enjambment: 

This occurs at the transition between lines four and five and lines twelve and thirteen. Enjambment can also be seen in the final lines of the poem.

discussion questions:
  • How do you think this poem would be different if it included a rhyme scheme instead of free verse? 
  • In what ways does Harjo describe the relationship between humans and the earth? 
  • How can you relate this poem to your ancestral tree? 
  • What do you think is the overall theme of the poem? In your opinion, which line(s) do you think conveys the theme of the poem? 
  • Harjo titled this poem ‘Remember,’ with a purpose. What is she trying to have the reader “Remember?” 
  • Harjo wanted readers to learn from their past. What do you think Harjo could have learned from her past that she mentioned in her poem?

#RememberYourRoots  #Ancestors  #Growing  #Nature  #LoveTheEarth  

#IndigenousAmericans  #Identity #CreationOfTheUniverse #FreeVersePoem 

#LearnFromYourPast #ConnectWithNature #Observe

Silent Spring, Fable for Tomorrow, Rachel Carson, Apocalyptic Fiction

This post was developed and authored by Megan Hastings


  • Silent Spring, Fable for Tomorrow, Rachel Carson
  • Houghton Mifflin Company, September 27, 1962


  • This particular story begins with the description of a beautiful and prosperous town, with colorful fields, trees, and plentiful vegetation. Everything the citizens need or want they have, and they appreciate the abundance of nature that lies in their town. Many visitors come to fish and enjoy the natural beauty of this community. But quickly the story takes a depressing turn into darkness and despair and the town faces a series of unfortunate events. The livestock perishes and fall ill, families start to pass away suddenly, unexplained deaths increase, doctors are finding new illnesses and have trouble helping their patients, and everything becomes lifeless. The fish die and the visitors stop coming. “It was a spring without voices. On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens, and scores of other bird voices there was now no sound; only silence lay over the fields and woods and marsh” (Carson, page 2). Carson speaks of an “evil spell” that seemed to have been cast upon the town, changing it to an apocalyptic setting. This exact town does not exist, but towns around the world experience these hardships all of the time. “The people had done it to themselves” (Carson, page 3). The message that the people had done it to themselves sends a clear and strong message that we need to be doing something different in order to preserve the beauty of our society. This story shows the hardships that one town faces, but heavily relates to troubles all around the world.


  • Lerner, Robert E. “Apocalyptic Literature.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/art/apocalyptic-literature. In this source, apocalyptic literature is explained which is the main idea of the primary piece of work, Silent Spring. It gives the origin and reasoning behind writings with such a tone and tells about the earliest apocalypses written by Jewish people. Sometimes a tone like this is overwhelmingly depressing and scary, but it has been around since around 200BCE and has told stories for many years. The apocalyptic genre had disappeared after the Middle Ages but is making a comeback today in modern literary works. This website gives the example of the American bestseller The Late Great Planet Earth which was written in 1970 by Hal Lindsey. Lindsey was a preacher in the Protestant faith that put forward this idea and genre and it became very popular. In Silent Spring, it is unsettling to read about the hardships that fall upon the town, and it was something that I had never read before. This source explains how apocalyptic writing has evolved and come about in our own world. Although Silent Spring is fiction, it can demand the reader to make connections to their own world and history. The history of this type of reading is helpful in understanding the reason people write in this way and love it and unlike the third source, this one explains in great detail the history of apocalyptic fiction across many different cultures for many years.
  • Lear, Linda. “Silent Spring.” Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, www.rachelcarson.org/SilentSpring.aspx. This site further explains the text of Silent Spring and Carson’s intentions behind writing it. She tried to take the struggles of real communities all around the world that were exposed to the chemical compound Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, DDT, which had damaged the environment as well as the beings who inhabited it. This is an insecticide that has the potential to severely harm the environment and this book is portraying what would happen if the use of DDT continued. In 1972, DDT was actually banned and deemed a probable human carcinogen in the U.S. and by international authorities. Silent Spring had become such a popular fable that John F. Kennedy even read it and it became an instant best-seller. Carson believed that humans were misusing many kinds of chemical pesticides and that humans were to see the effects shortly if they did not have pesticide use under control. She argues that the users of DDT especially might not know the harm to the biome when they use it. Her book inspired a movement that started years later after the publishing of it, and it was successful at conveying the message that she hoped it would deliver.
  • MasterClass Staff. “What Is Apocalyptic And Post-Apocalyptic Fiction? – 2021.” MasterClass, MasterClass, 8 Nov. 2020, www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-apocalyptic-and-post-apocalyptic-fiction#7-common-themes-in-apocalyptic-fiction. This source provides a more in-depth review and explanation of apocalyptic writing. The importance of understanding and appreciating this genre will help the readers of Silent Spring understand the message that Carson is giving. Why such a dark tone? Why so unsettling and unhappy? This site gives key information on why people write this way, and why it is important sometimes to do so. In Silent Spring, Carson clearly is trying to tell the reader that they are doomed by giving an example of a town that actually is. It shows the reader their potential future if things do not change. Many different religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism have stories of their people reaching “the end.” This source also lists the seven common themes that appear in apocalyptic fiction which include climate change, nuclear holocaust, medical pandemic, the rise of sentient robots, the destruction of a major city, endless war, and a fascist government engaged in mind control. These all would lead to “mass unrest, societal breakdown, and widespread death” (Masterclass, 2021). In silent spring, we see the theme of climate change as the environment starts to dwindle and suffer.


  • This vivid piece of apocalyptic fiction is extremely straightforward in the troubles that the town faces, and that humans have done this terrible thing to themselves. The setting of this piece is very important because it relates closely to the real world and hits very close to home. Nothing in this story is very far-fetched because all of the events that occur, occur in our own world. It clearly views the town in two different ways, one when it was alive and prosperous, and two when it was damaged and dark. The plot starts with a perfect little town and it suddenly takes a turn to where evil and darkness consume it. This contrast sets up the tone of the story which creates the reader to react, making them feel sad for what has happened to the town. Carson does not go right out and announce what has happened to the town, other than an evil spell being cast upon it, figuratively. In the second source listed, it is explained further that insecticide was the root cause of the despair in the town. The message in this story is that humans should appreciate nature in all of its beauty, and while taking advantage of it might be easy, when it is all gone there will be nothing left and it will not go unnoticed. The theme is that nature needs to be treated more gently or else many of the bad things the reader learns of in this story may happen to us on Earth. Humans have neglected and destroyed nature for long enough, and now it is time to stop and help it heal. This story does a great job of creating an apocalyptic tone/style that will surely cause the reader to care about environmentalism after they have finished reading it.


  • Is the genre of apocalyptic fiction dangerous? Can it be misleading or misunderstood? Could it cause false worry or stress? What is your view of apocalyptic fiction? Does your opinion change depending on the story?
  • How does the story Silent Spring encourage care for the environment when it is such a dark and dreary story? Is the message more negative or positive?
  • How do you as the reader feel after reading Silent Spring? Rachel Carson accuses the humans of doing the damage, do you feel as if you have caused any significant damage to the environment? What might this kind of story provoke you to do about the dwindling environment?

A White Heron, Sarah Orne Jewett: Nature’s Relation to Wildlife, Gender, and Industrialization

By Mackenzie Ridilla

Core Text

Jewett, Sarah Orne. “A White Heron.” Edited by Terry Heller, Jewett Texts, www.public.coe.edu/~theller/soj/awh/heron.htm.


On a June evening in the New England countryside a little girl named Sylvia is walking home through a forest with her cow. Sylvia has moved to the countryside to help her grandmother Mrs. Tilley, and while living on the farm she has developed a spirit and love for nature. Sylvia realizes she is late and needs to arrive home. Sylvia and the cow stop at a brook for a break, the little girl hears a whistle from a young ornithologist who approaches her asking to spend a night at her home. Sylvia walks the man and the cow back to her farm where the young man is offered food and a place to sleep. Sylvia’s grandmother makes conversation with the man and explains how Sylvy is an explorer at heart and extremely attached to nature. The hunter sees this as an opportunity to tell the small family that he collects and preserves birds. He gushes over how he would love to find the white heron and would give ten dollars to whoever could find it for him, but Sylvia, even though she has seen the bird in the marshes, does not reveal anything about the bird’s location. During the next day, Sylvia accompanies the hunter and forms a small crush on him even though she dislikes his hobby. 

That night, Sylvia is unable to fall asleep and instead travels to the great pine tree to try and spot the white heron. She bravely climbs to the top of the great pine and is amazed by the beauty of her surroundings. She then witnesses the white heron in the marshes where the bird flies past the great pine to an adjacent tree closer to Sylvia. After viewing the white heron and its nest, Sylvia makes her way down the pine and back home where her grandmother and the hunter were awaiting her arrival. After going through the work of finding the white heron’s nest, Sylvia debates the importance of the bird’s life in comparison to the money that the hunter could provide for her family. But eventually she decides to not reveal the bird’s location to the eager hunter, and he leaves disappointed. Sylvia is never fully sure if she made the right decision.

The author Sarah Orne Jewett was also a New England resident as she was born in South Berwick, Maine during the year 1849. Throughout her career, she has been inspired to create literary works based on her New England surroundings. 

This short story focuses on Sylvia’s direct relationship to all her natural surroundings and how her values reflect her lifestyle. She is placed between man and nature and learns to be the bridge between industry and the environment.

Literary Analysis

Sarah Orne Jewett implements several literary techniques such as imagery, selective point-of-view, and personification to emphasize mankind’s environmental impact on concepts relating to wildlife, gender roles, and industrialization pressures.

Throughout the entirety of her short story, Sarah Orne Jewett includes imagery to develop an elegant and saturated environment for Sylvia to explore. As the little girl reached the top of the great pine, she notices that “the heron has perched on a pine bough not far beyond yours, and cries back to his mate on the nest and plumes his feathers for the new day!” (Jewett). The detailed descriptions of the white heron’s appearance and behaviors is used to demonstrate its role in the environment. The pair of snowy egrets are described as living peacefully in their surroundings. Their seclusion and rare beauty are the factors that make them desirable for a hunter who is too consumed by his artificial background. The separation between the city-life and pure nature is apparent in Jewett’s inclusion of intricate setting. 

Other literary devices that Jewett includes to display man’s interaction with the natural environment are selective point-of-view and personification. For the majority of the short story, Jewett writes in the perspective of the Sylvia, a young girl. Just as Sylvia is about to reveal the white heron’s location, she recalls “[t]he murmur of the pine’s green branches is in her ears” and “she remembers how the white heron came flying through the golden air and how they watched the sea and the morning together” (Jewett). As evident in her thought-process, Sylvia has a strong connection and appreciation for the environment. This inclination toward the preservation of nature correlates to the stereotype of women being more in touch with nature and how they are more sensitive to issues relating to the environment. Additionally, the personification of living aspects of nature provides Sylvia with nurturing surroundings that act as loved ones. It is as if Sylvia’s environment is as much of a factor in her life as any human. When her surroundings become integrated with her life, it represents the intense relationship between femininity and nature. Then the differences between the natural world and our manufactured institutions accumulate to form a stark contrast.

Brian Kirhagis Paintings: Also known as BK The Artist, Brian Kirhagis is a painter who has created a series of artwork titled E.A.R.T.H. to showcase and celebrate “Mother Earth.” In this series he paints portraits of women in grounded poses, but the aspect that makes his work unique is his incorporation of surrealism. Each figure is composed of lush elements of nature that add to the vibrancy of the piece. This series’ goal is to display the interconnectedness between women and the earth.


  • Joseph, Sheri. “Sarah Orne Jewett’s White Heron: An Imported Metaphor.” American Literary Realism, 1870-1910, vol. 27, no. 3, 1995, pp. 81–84. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/27746628. Accessed 6 Aug. 2021. This article analyses Sarah Orne Jewett’s reasoning behind including the white heron as her symbol of nature’s vulnerability. As discussed in the article, the white heron, or snowy egret, was rarely spotted in areas north of Georgia by the year 1900 due to excessive hunting. Only after the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed in 1918 were these birds expanding into the northeastern United States. Jewett’s fable, published in 1886, changes the location of these birds’ natural habitat from subtropical Florida to New England. She also alters these birds’ behaviors. The short story depicts a sole pair of herons nesting together where, in actuality, this species primarily nests in large colonies. These changes to the behavior of the snowy egrets were not because of Jewett’s lack of knowledge; however, these alterations were purposeful in exhibiting the need for environmental activism and the extent of nature’s vulnerability. By illustrating the white herons as extremely rare and secluded, Jewett exposes the birds’ vulnerability to predation from mankind and how these symbols of innocence and peace are becoming more fabricated as man attempts to dominate the environment. Additionally, Jewett chose to write about the snowy egret in an inaccurate setting to discourage the industry from hunting these birds for fashion and sport.
  • Orr, Elaine. “Reading Negotiation and Negotiated Reading: A Practice with /in ‘A White Heron’ and ‘The Revolt of ‘Mother’ “.” CEA Critic, vol. 53, no. 3, 1991, pp. 49–65. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/44377067. Accessed 6 Aug. 2021. In her article, Elaine Orr analyzes how Sylvia’s relationship with the young hunter demonstrates the connection between women and nature. The hunter in Jewett’s story deliberately formed a relationship with Sylvia in order to learn the location of the white heron’s nest. This man manipulates a little girl in hopes of exploiting nature for his own benefit. It is made clear that Sylvia has an inherent connection to her surroundings which makes her an excellent bridge between the persistent pull of industrialization, exhibited by the hunter, and the pure beauty and innocence of the natural environment, represented by the white heron. Sylvia is described as both innocent and courageous which reflects each stereotype involving masculinity and femininity.  Sylvia is characterized as “small and silly” while she began her journey up the great pine “with utmost bravery,” which were seen as contradictory traits during the time period in which this story was published (Jewett). This blend of tenacity, associated with masculinity, and delicacy, associated with femininity, adequately demonstrates the push and pull between the masculine industry and feminine nature.
  • El Bizri, Hani R., et al. “The Thrill of the Chase: Uncovering Illegal Sport Hunting in Brazil through YouTube™ Posts.” Ecology and Society, vol. 20, no. 3, 2015. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/26270243. Accessed 13 Aug. 2021. In the article, Hani R. El Bizri, Thaís Q. Morcatty, Jéssica J. S. Lima and João Valsecchi analyze the instances of illegal sport hunting in Brazil through the social media platform known as YouTube™. Their study suggests that the sport hunters are wealthy Brazilian citizens that severely question the environmental regulations and policies installed by the Brazilian government. The research reveals the immense popularity of sport hunting in Brazil, despite its illegal status. The background of these avid hunters reflects the same urban setting as the ornithologist in Jewett’s short story. Their motivation and reasoning for hunting can also be connect as the article indicates that most hunters are in it for the pursuit and killing of game species. This article reflects on how the combination of hunting and conservationist actions can benefit the environment, though, the authors believe that this can only be successful if each hunter is cooperative. But this method will not follow through if the ornithologist represents the average hunter because the excessive hunting designated for collecting species severely damages ecosystems. The desire for trophies to demonstrate a “connection to nature” is counterintuitive. It is the contrast between an industrial, urban lifestyle and the purity of nature that urges humans to desire a piece for themselves. Additionally, the pressure for specific resources from nature pressures man to exploit the creatures that make the environment so remarkable.

Map of Snowy Egret Population Locations: This visual of various locations of the snowy egrets, or white herons, depicts the common American habitat for these birds as tropical and subtropical areas rather than the cooler climates of New England, the location of Jewett’s story. The text that is paired with this map provides additional information regarding this species’ battle against industry and fashion.

Discussion Questions

  • Why would Sarah Orne Jewett decide to include factual information in addition to inaccurate details about the white heron? Do you think that this mixture of contrasting elements is confusing to the reader? Why wouldn’t Jewett simply make the behavior and surroundings of the birds in her fable completely fabricated or entirely factual?
  • The women in Jewett’s tale, Sylvia and Mrs. Tilley, are distinctly separated from the male ornithologist through their true and profound appreciation for all aspects of nature. Does Jewett’s interpretation of femininity in relation to nature progress the feminist movement? Or does it place women in harmful stereotypes that prevent the expansion of gender roles?
  • Near the end of her short story, Jewett writes “[w]ere the birds better friends than their hunter might have been, — who can tell?” How does this question reflect Sylvia’s values? What about Jewett’s values? Considering that she has lived in both urban and rural settings, how has Sylvia’s surroundings impacted her choice in protecting the location of the white heron?

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

By Liana Ockenhouse

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring

Core Text

Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. Penguin Books, in association with Hamish Hamilton, 2015.

Silent Spring by Carson, Rachel: Very Good Soft cover ...


Rachel Carson was a marine biologist who wrote the environmental science book Silent Spring. The story begins with Carson establishing the narrative of a fictional small town located in the heartland of America. All things considered, the town sounds perfect in every way, with animals and town folks living in harmony and a thriving community. However, suddenly in this short introduction, an unnamed, mysterious plague falls onto this small town and decimates the local wildlife, and causes the nameless town’s community and economy to collapse. This introduction for Silent Spring serves as a wake-up call for the rest of Carson’s work, where she begins to go into detailed, scientific reviews on environmental concerns. Carson discusses a wide range of topics concerning environmental issues, stemming from the devastation on birds to the dwindling of our sources of water, and Carson uses her education as a marine biologist to talk about the damages that humans have brought upon the environment and the animals. Many of the chapters’ focus is on chemicals such as insecticides and how they affect the ecosystem but Carson also speaks about general waste products and trash thrown out by people that are also harming the environment. Carson covers all ecosystems, specifies how each is suffering and does not hold back on explaining how severe the damage is, and going into the science of why it is all so devastating.

Literary Analysis:

Setting: In the first chapter of Silent Night, “A Fable For Tomorrow”, the setting is at a nameless town located in the American heartland. Carson describes this as a seemingly perfect town that has a thriving community and is in harmony with the nature and woodlands around it.

MOD Learning Center: Rural and Small Town Transportation

Narration: In “A Fable For Tomorrow”, the fictional introduction to Carson’s work, the narration is in an omniscient third-person point of view. The narrator describes the town, goes into detail about its situation, and has full knowledge of the characters and their situations while holding no bias towards or from them.

Conflict: The conflict of the introduction story falls under the Human vs. Nature category. The nameless town, obviously populated by humans, has a thriving community that has farming and has a booming tourist attraction in the form of its surrounding nature. When Carson’s “strange blight” strikes the area, the farm animals and the humans’ health take a severe decline and the surrounding woodlands and streams are contaminated and wither away as well.

Man v Nature by tupilak on DeviantArt

Symbolism: The nameless town itself serves as something symbolic. This town Carson has crafted is meant to symbolize the current state of affairs in the world finds itself in regards to the environmental situations of the time. These environmental afflictions are symbolized by the nameless blight that sweeps over the entire town at the beginning of the book.


Mishra, Sandip Kumar. “(Pdf) Ecocriticism: A Study of Environmental Issues in Literature.” ResearchGate, Unknown, 11 Nov. 2016, www.researchgate.net/publication/318350741_Ecocriticism_A_Study_of_Environmental_Issues_in_Literature.

Sandip Kumar Mishra, a PhD scholar in English who has studied at multiple universities including Harvard University, gives a general overview of the literature that focuses on environmental issues. In this particular paper, Mishra speaks on how “The extensive misuse of natural resources has left us at the brink of ditch. The rainforests are cut down, the fossil fuel is fast decreasing, the cycle of season is at disorder, ecological disaster is frequent now round the globe and our environment is at margin.” (Mishra). Mishra also talks about the genre of Ecocriticism and that it has an intentionally broad approach to its own subject matter and that sciences of all kinds contribute to the growth of the field. Even though Mishra’s article covers the specifics of environmental literature and the movements that have birthed it, his article provides ideal context on Carson’s work as well, not just Silent Spring but all of her environmental journals as well as others. Knowing the history of this field of literacy and its structure helps give information on Carson and why she publishes the work she put so much care and knowledge into.

Lear, Linda J. “Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring.’” <i>Environmental History Review</i>, vol. 17, no. 2, 1993, pp. 23–48. <i>JSTOR</i>, www.jstor.org/stable/3984849. Accessed 6 Aug. 2021.

Linda J. Lear’s paper, published by the Oxford University Press, has a primary focus on Carson’s work, her accomplishments, and also the environmental history attached to her. The first pages of the paper is a biography of Carson’s early life, noting her reserved personality, her hometown of Springdale Pennsylvania, and even her husband, Robert Carson, and his career paths. Lear also speaks about Carson’s work outside of the Fish and Wildlife Service in Maine, such as her work on studying clouds for the “Omnibus” television series. Lear then goes into the making of Carson’s famous Silent Spring, noting how, as a young biologist, Carson had a mounting concern about the increasing use of synthetic pesticides. Lear describes that, because of Carson’s generation, that the scientist used her understanding of nuclear fallout and applied that knowledge to bring awareness to the scarily similar behavior of synthetic pesticides. Lear discusses how Carson used Silent Spring and her background in marine biology to become a public educator, speaking on the behave of conserving nature and the wildlife.

Cotton, Peter A. “Avian Migration Phenology and Global Climate Change.” PNAS, National Academy of Sciences, 14 Oct. 2003, www.pnas.org/content/100/21/12219.

Winter Robin | Winter, Robin, Birds

Peter A. Cotton from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Plymouth gathered data on migratory birds and how climate change has affected them, specifically how it has prolonged the migrating seasons and altered their breeding and migration, among other issues. In Cotton’s study, there are three species of birds who had considerably weak data in concern of arriving at their breeding grounds on time. The birds in the study are the whinchat, lesser whitethroat, and yellow wagtail. The study could not determine a precise reason as to why these species of birds did not make it to their breeding grounds at an appropriate time. This article serves as a good parallel with Rachel Carson’s eighth chapter in Silent Spring where she discusses the decline in songbirds due to the spreading of DDT spray. Both articles take note of the steep decline of birds in their respective habitats and/or migratory paths.


1. How does Rachel Carson go about applying her background as a marine biologist to the text of Silent Spring? What are types of human products affecting the environment does she cover throughout the book?

2. In the introduction, Carson provides a very clear image of what kind of damage can be caused by the environmental issues of her time. Are these issues still relevant today or have these problems been handled properly?

3. Carson describes the devastating effects insecticide has on plants and animals throughout her text. How did the insecticide in chapter ten contaminated farmlands and how did the government spread it in the first place?

#insecticide #climatechange #avian #environmentalissues #smalltown