The Nature of Relationships between People and the Environment
The relations that can be developed between people and the environment have been discussed by several sufficient writers for a long period. Many others are eager to share their personal experience and attitudes to this kind of relations. Still, not all opinions are clear and logical. In this paper, two different stories will be analyzed in terms of their possibilities to convince the reader to be careful with nature and all its gifts offered.
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The Land of Little Rain is created by Mary Austin, the author of several short essays about different landscapes and inhabitants with their intentions to promote environmental conservation. Robin Kimmerer is another author, who tries to connect different historical, philosophical, and environmental issues to prove the necessity to re-evaluate the relations people may develop with nature in his Skywoman Falling from Braiding Sweetgrass.
Both stories help to realize that people and nature are interrelated, and sometimes, it is wrong to define the boundaries of these relations but enjoy the chances offered. The authors succeed in using different techniques such as questions, analogies, flashbacks, symbols, and personal points of view that help to deepen the reader’s understanding of their main thoughts and intentions.
As a rule, society may be divided into three main parts: those, who support the idea to develop trustful relations between nature and people, those, who do not accept nature as something that should be respected, and those, who ignore the possibility of the development of this type of relations. Some authors believe that people deserve the right to co-exist with nature, use the gifts of nature, and develop personal skills and knowledge to meet the demands set by the land.
Some authors admit the fact that people have to respect nature and make payments for the natural sources they have access to. It is very hard to come to the same conclusion and prove the worth of nature-human relations. The essays written by Kimmerer and Austin may be used to provide the reader with educative and interesting information on how the environment is accepted by ordinary people and if it is justified to develop relations between nature and people.
The works by Kimmerer and Austin have one thing in common: they want to describe the role of nature in human life and its power. The authors use different literary techniques to involve the reader and share their understanding and imagination on the chosen topic. Some techniques are used to underline the uncertainty of the authors, and some ideas were used to underline the importance of their ideas.
On the one hand, it seems like Kimmerer and Austin do not want to educate the reader but to describe the events and share their opinions. On the other hand, Kimmerer and Austin are eager to use their knowledge and skills to prove the correctness of the positions they choose. At the same, the reader is involved with the possibility to study history and consider the importance of the philosophical approaches. Each author has their methods to impress the reader, and the evaluation of the text help to understand that nature-human relations turn out to be an open topic for discussions.
There are many different ways writers can choose to impress the reader. For example, Kimmerer’s Skywoman Falling is an interesting piece of writing due to the decision to unite the past and the present to make an attempt and change or even improve the future. Kimmerer begins the essay with a powerful story that may be considered as an imaginative flashback. He describes the myth of a Skywoman falling that is highly respected by the Indian inhabitants.
Kimmerer uses several descriptions such as “a mere dust mote” (3) and several repetitions such as “the land grew and grew” (4) to represent the story of Skywoman and introduce it as a solid basis for his interpretations and statements. In the middle of the text, there are also several flashbacks from his teaching experience and the inability to avoid the fact that “nearly every one of the two hundred students said confidently that human and nature are a bad mix” (Kimmerer 6).
The author seems to be rather impressed by the fact that not many people and students, in particular, can define the relations between the environment and people beneficial. To underline his doubts and discontents, Kimmerer asks questions in his paper and tries to find the answers at the same time. Such a technique is frequently used by many writers in different styles. Still, the peculiar feature of Kimmerer’s questions is the necessity to answer them quickly by using personal experience and attitudes to the problems. “How can we begin to move forward toward ecological and cultural sustainability if we cannot even imagine what the path feels like” (Kimmerer 6) or “How can we translate from the stories at the world’s beginning to this hour so much closer to its end?” (Kimmerer 8).
Such questions show that the author has already got a solid background in environmental studies. It may be that the author has already identified his position. Still, he wants other people to comprehend what steps should be taken to change the situation and why people need to be careful in taking all of them because they are just immigrants on the earth (the way the Skyworld lady was). Even if people make their best attempts to become the natives on the land, they should be ready to lose because people continue making the same mistake for a long period – the inability to consider the other species for guidance and teachers for people (Kimmerer 9).
The style of the author is impressive indeed. He neither calls for action no asks for help. He introduces the facts and combines them with his theory to prove that the relations between the environment and people cannot be ignored.
There is another approach to the interpretation of the nature-human relations developed by Mary Austin. In comparison to the previous author, Austin does not use questions or flashbacks to describe the connection that could exist between people and the environment. The main task of this essay is to describe the land called the Country of Lost Borders and its inhabitants. Though the land remains to be inhospitable to its inhabitants with its “hills, rounded, blunt, burned, squeezed up out of chaos, chrome and vermilion painted, aspiring to the snow-line” (Austin 3). Such descriptions provide the reader with a clear picture of the condition of the land.
At the same time, it seems like the author is limited by the words and fails to add some adjectives or explanatory phrases that could help the reader to get a comprehensive understanding of the land under analysis. Such an inability to use some descriptive words is the main difference between Austin and Kimmerer. The language seems to be complicated and lack of logical connection from time to time as if the author wants to create a list of facts but makes a decision to change the list into a descriptive essay. Many certain facts can be used by the reader to clarify the importance of nature and the connection between land and human.
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Austin gathers much information about deserts and the conditions under which the land can be found. The reader should not think but just accept the material gathered from the observations without any additional questions and requests like in the sentence “desert is a loose term to indicate land that supports no man” (Austin 3). Unintentionally, at the end of the essay, the author uses new but abruptly abandoned ideas such as “it is hard to escape the sense of mastery as the stars move in the wide clear heavens to risings and settings unobscured” (Austin 10). The author provides the reader with space and time to think about their connection to nature and the price that should be paid by people for using the opportunities offered by nature.
In general, the approaches developed by Austin and Kimmerer in writing about the environment and its connection to people are effective indeed. The authors prove that nature is too powerful to be ignored by people. Some people cannot even understand how weak and sensitive they can be in regards to nature. Therefore, Austin tries to help people by underlining the facts, and Kimmerer tries to ask provocative questions to motivate people. Regarding the differences in approaches and similarities in the opinions, the essay developed by Kimmerer seems to be more interesting, educative, and influential for the environmental studies.
Austin, Mary. The Land of Little Rain. New York: The Modern Library, 2003. Print.
Kimmerer, Robin. Braiding Sweetgrass. Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2013. Print.