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Kingsolver and Tretheway

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Kingsolver and Tretheway , have written very readable, very digestable books. I enjoyed reading both of the books very much. There are many similarities between the books. Obviously they are both about nature, in a catastrophic view. One is fiction and one is not. The second similarity I see is that both books focus on nature as part of society, not separate from. The authors draw the readers into the stories; the environment becomes another character within the story. The third similarity I see is how intricately detailed nature is communicated through the stories. While Kingsolver and Tretheway are similar in their writings, they also are different. The authors came from two different perspectives, one before disaster and one after .When the books were finished, I found myself in the middle. I found myself within the heart of Dickinson’s writings. Environmental sustainability is the concept of nature enduring over time.

Kingsolver in her book mysteriously unfolds the idea that the environment is cracking and part of the sustainability piece is losing ground. She places the butterflies on a mountain, and allows the reader to find them. She builds the story from there. Tretheway presents the reader with the catastrophe, and works back towards sustainability. Environmental sustainability is reliant upon both upon society and the economy to maintain effectiveness; and society and the economy is reliant upon the sustainability of the environment: (i.e. you cannot have a sawmill without trees). Kingsolver and Tretheway bring into their stories societal and economical issues. Kingsolver introduces the towns’ personality into the story and Tretheway introduces her towns’ history. In Flight Behavior, Dellarobia at first is viewed as saintly or “receiving grace” (pg 57) for her discovering the butterflies. As time progresses the towns’ view changes and becomes more focused on ways money can be made from the butterflies. The “red necked environmentalist” portrayed in the story become very real.

The readers can relate to them and therefore the reader begins to ask question of themselves: “What would I do?”, and more importantly, “What can I do?” Tretheway, on page 28, is commenting on a conversation she had with historian and activist, Derrick Evans. Evans had returned home to help rebuild Turkey Creek, a historic enclave within North Gulfport. “I don’t want to be able to say I can see the future…but the devastation brought on by the recovery”. In addition Tretheway introduce her community, her family to the reader. Joe, Son Dixon, her grandmother, Leretta Dixon, Aesha and others become known to the readers. The readers again ask questions of themselves. “What should I do to prevent this from happening to me?” Economical issues are brought into both of the stories as well. Kingsolver raised the logging debate. Tretheway raises the casinos built upon the gulf. In Flight Behavior, on page 53, Bear and Hester are talking about what they see: the butterflies.

…”Whatever the hell that is, it can’t be a damn good for logging…”. This story line in the book regarding logging continues, until the family is seeing that they are making enough money, without t he logging to make the payments. I don’t think Bear actually decides not to log. I think that the idea of logging the mountain is just put on hold. The economical issues that are spoken of in Tretheway’s book are regarding the land surrounding the wetlands. The casino’s and condominiums have displaced the hertigae of the coast. On page 28, Tretheway comments: “…where only folly seems to be returning with any ease, where some aspects of the former heritage of the coast are bulldozed and paved over, obscured beneath the concrete slabs of casinos and condominiums.

“ She mentions on page 85, that it was “in 1992, the year, the first casino arrived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and with it…luxurious suites on the penthouse floor, valet parking and expensive cars…”. Kingsolver and Tretheway in their books create a very consumable pallet which allows the reader to digest the sour context. The beauty of nature that both authors portray is very evident as the books are read. Kingsolver does not have the Emily Dickinson style of writing. The beauty that she creates is more in the ideas of daily existence, of community. The beauty, seen on page 418-419; when Dell and Cub nurtured the lamb to take a breath, instead of letting it dies. The overwhelming joy they felt when they saw that they could actually do something that made a difference. “Things look impossible when you’ve not done them…this is all going to scare us to death..you and me…but we’ve still got to do it.”

This is beauty to me; courage. Again on page 421, Dell and Preston look at the butterflies that are flying: “more dazzling still were the monarchs. Down here in the open without camouflage of forest…theoretically this meant they were ready to launch out.” The beauty written here is stunning and fulfilling. Tretheway writes in Beyond Katrina, about yet another kind of beauty found in nature. The beauty of traditions, of lifestyles that are built within the environment, the heritage found within neighborhoods and the beauty of home. This element of beauty of nature is vivid on every line of Tretheway’s book. Throughout her book she seems to be looking for her home, her heritage and her definitions. She writes the poem, Providence, reflecting upon the loss felt within her family after Camille. Tretheway is viewing the cycle of within her experience. The beauty seen here is a genuine, realist concern for her community and traditions.

The next day our house,
On its cinder blocks—seemed to float
In the flooded yard: no foundation
Beneath us, nothing I could see
Tying us to the land
In the water, our reflection trembled
Disappeared when I bent to touch it (pg 29)

Connections to nature are what we experience in our everyday life, unknowingly. It is the experience of smelling the fresh cut grass at a 4th of July party. It is the experience of hearing the leaves crunch under your feet as you walk up the sidewalk to your Grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Connections to nature are made every day and they often give meaning to circumstances and events in our life. Poem # 1038 in The Poems by Emily Dickinson; speaks of a flower. The connections made through this flower to other parts of nature and ultimately to a human are displayed in the poem. Dickinson starts the poem at the end of the process. The bloom. She ends the poem with the great responsibility that the flower has. She writes of the Meridian offered to the butterfly, the bud opposes the worm and keeps the dew, Adjusts the heat-eludes the wind…

Obviously she speaks of uninterrupted patterns that happen routinely, without notice that are crucial for sustainability. Poem # 379 in The Poems By Emily Dickinson; speaks of the grass, and the roll its plays in sustainability. ”The grass,” she says “so little has to do…with only butterflies, to brood…and even when it die…dwell in sovereign barns…I wish I were hay.”

Here Dickinson is speaking of cycles within nature. The grass grows, assists the insects, dies, smells beautiful and explains that the grass has so little to do. Poem # 571 in The Poems By Emily Dickinson; This poem speaks of two butterflies who apparently do not survive (I hope I am reading the poem right) their day playing in the field. I bring this poem up for the simplistic reason, that nature protects itself. It does keep a balance. Dickinson respects and values the cycles and dynamics within nature. Kingsolver and Tretheway both reflect upon environmental sustainability and the beauty of nature within the sustainability realms of society and the economy. Their stories are inviting to the readers.

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