Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Prodigal Summer: A Whole New World

Barbara Kingsolver has given Deanna Wolfe, one of the protagonists in Prodigal Summer, the mindset of a devout tree-hugger. Very passionate about wildlife, and therefore very devoted to discovering more about our world, her perspective gives most readers new outlooks on life: that of infinitesimal insects, precocious predators, and mother nature herself.

From some of her first few words, Kingsolver makes the theme of this novel very clear: "Every quiet step is thunder to beetle life underfoot; every choice is a world made new for the chosen" (Summer 1). Her world is the mountain that she protects from illegal hunters, yet it is "not her mountain, [it's] nobody's damn mountain, [for] this mountain... belonged to scarlet tanagers, puffballs, Luna moths, and coyotes" (Summer 100).
When asked to describe her life, her world, she explains that she likes birds and animals in general because "they do something different every fifteen minutes" (Summer 249). She sees that animals "do have a plan," which is simply "the persistence of life on earth" (Summer 258). It's as if Kingsolver wants us to see what our true place in this world should be; How could people possibly think that our meager goals, most being self-beneficial, are more socially significant and clearly correct than the plan to continue life on earth? Is it possible for humans to accept that animals have a better sense of life than we do? This is the world view that Kingsolver has created for Deanna Wolfe. Deanna Wolfe. Is her name a coincidence? The world, as selfish people see it, may never know.

~Father Nature, Editor

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