Analysis of Edward Abbey Essay
Edward Abbey’s attitudes toward nature are clearly characterized through his description of the Aravaipa Canyon in New Mexico. Abbey views nature as this magnificent and mysterious concept in life that will forever be unknown, or not entirely comprehensible. His purpose is to show the audience that nature is full of wonder and that there are so many things still to be discovered. He does this by describing the Aravaipa Canyon with intense detail and providing personal experiences for the reader.
He is able to grab the reader’s sense of imagery through great adjectives while he displays his knowledge and theories of the canyon and nature as a whole. Abbey begins the essay with a personal encounter that he had with a mountain lion years ago. He writes that when he had met face to face with the beast, that everything had stopped and he was one and the same with the lion. As they “peered at each other through the gloom,” Abbey felt a sense of “mutual curiosity. ” This phrase gives the reader an idea of Abbey’s encounter and how he interpreted it, and how it shows that he is one with the lion, and nature.
He then says that he “felt more wonder than fear. ” These two abstract concepts are very contrasting. The average person would likely feel fear, but not for the author. He continues to portray his idea of being one with nature by showing his “wonder” in the mountain lion. Following this, Abbey writes how he lost track of time at this moment, saying how five minutes felt like one minute. This tells the reader that when Abbey is in nature, everything else doesn’t seem to exist. In the next paragraph, the author does a superb job in panting a picture of the nature that Abbey loves by describing wildlife.
He writes of the Sonoran whitetail and their “little heart-shaped tracks. ” He then describes the javelina by saying they are “piglike animals with tusks, oversized heads, and tapering bodies, they roam the slopes and gulches in family bands, living on roots, tubers, and innards of barrel cactus, on grubs, insects, and carrion. ” Abbey then uses another big contrast in words as he describes the javelina to be more “playful” than “dangerous”, suggesting that nature is not what most believe it to be.
Most people do not know what these animals are, and Abbey realizes that. He does a great job at being able to keep his audience on the same page as him by explaining the aspects and features of these animals and nature through great detail. In the next sentence, he says that the water in the creek is “anklebone-chilling. ” Here Abbey strikes the readers sense of touch as he describes that water to be anklebone-chillingly cold, a feeling that many can relate to and imagine in their head.
In the following paragraph, Abbey writes how his visit to the canyon is coming to an end, and he shows his combined love for nature and resentment of the world we live in through this sentence: “But we have earned enough memories, stored enough mental-emotional images in our heads, from one brief day in Aravaipa Canyon, to enrich the urban days to come. ” He says that this short tim at the canyon will be enough to “enrich” him until his next visit.
This gives the reader an idea of how much nature inspires Abbey in his everyday life. He then writes that “.. any person whose senses are alive can make can make a world of any natural place, however limited it might seem, on this subtle planet of ours. ” Here Abbey shows his theory that anyone can find wonder in nature, but what should really capture the audience’s attention is how he describes the world as “subtle. ” If you’ve read this essay you’ll know that that is not his description of the planet, but the average person’s. It seems that he is mocking the fact that nature could seem subtle through the way he uses that word in the context of the sentence.
Abbey ends his work with a quote that shows the opposite end of the spectrum, a view that contrasts with Abbey’s. “The world is big but it is comprehensible. ” – R. Buckminster Fuller. This quote suggests that while our planet has a lot to be explored and discovered, the power of the human race will find reason for everything and will not need a sense of wonder and awe for nature. This contradicts Abbey’s view. He then writes that “the world is not nearly big enough and that any portion of its surface, left unpaved and alive, is infinitely rich in details and relationships, in wonder, beauty, mystery, comprehensible only in part.”
This statement really shows Abbey’s attitude throughout this piece, that nature is a mystery all together and that it will never be fully revealed, and more importantly that it shouldn’t. Abbey gives nature this awesome perspective through using very abstract adjectives such as “wonder, beauty, and mystery” to show that nature is very grand and mystical. The last paragraph is very small, but huge in the fact of where it leaves the reader. “We will never get to the end of it, never plumb the bottom of it, never know the whole of even so small and trivial and useless and precious a place as Aravaipa. Therein lies our redemption.”
The first sentence tell the reader that Abbey believes that nature will never be fully understood. He then describes he canyon as “small and trivial and useless. ” This is odd for the reader because we know that Abbey sees nature as something so much more than rocks and trees, but we then realize that he is saying these things through the mouth of the average person because he then calls this place “precious. ” Abbey’s “redemption” in the last sentence suggests that his wonder and large respect for nature will, in the end, save mankind. Abbey believes that it is our job to be one with nature, and in return it will save us.