Robert Gray, Arthur Miller and Rachel Carson are writers that each explores the 20th century interaction and relationship between humans and their environment. From their texts ‘The networks’, ‘North Coast Town’, ‘Death of a Salesman’ and Silent Spring’ we learn of conflict between man and his environment-which can be everything from man’s surrounding area, conditions and influences. And this conflict harms both man and nature causing degradation, exploitation and destruction for nature whilst isolation, alienation and soullessness for man.
Robert Gray is a poet who is openly concerned about the state and truths of our human interactions with the physical and natural environments. Gravy’s poems’ contain themes of a negative and depressing quality but his vivid use Of imagery creates a response in the reader that is both thoughtful and dramatic. We see the results of man’s conflict with his environment- degradation, exploitation and destruction of nature, whilst also the isolation, alienation and soullessness it creates for man. In The Networks’ Gray focuses upon what he sees as the brutal and inhumane slaughter of animals.
Gray is disgusted and possesses a negative opinion about our treatment and destruction of the natural environment and reveals his view on the timeless issue about the right for all living things to live an untroubled existence, we see this clearly in his use of many concrete images and figurative language. These vivid and concrete images he creates paint a picture of the degradation, exploitation and destruction of the beauty of the natural environment-its animals, whilst it also destroys himself within for witnessing these horrid acts, isolating, alienating and making him soulless.
The horrid destruction of nature can be seen through the images ‘the pigs fear made them mount one another at the last minute’ This shows the pain, distress and suffering this brutality is causing the animals, they are in pure fear and petrified knowing that they will die, running on adrenalin to mate and procreate before death to ensure the continuation oftener kind. Personification is used in great effect in his description of his activities- directly linking mankind to the killing and brutality he witnesses.
Examples include, ‘arm-thick corkscrews’, ‘chomping bloody mouth-‘ and ‘shaped into a anis’. These image enforce that man’s hand (arm) is responsible for these brutal acts, the corkscrews grinding the bodies. The ‘chomping bloody mouths is a metaphor reinforcing the greed of human consumption. And the image of the penis is to signify that these horrid acts are done specifically by man. Witnessing all this brutal killing destroys Gray within himself.
When he was inside the surroundings of the networks he isolated himself, alienated from the others by the brutality and when outside in the beauty Of nature he felt so lossless that in the natural setting he attempts to punish and cleanse himself from what he knows he had done wrong ‘I’d scoop up shell grit’; this substance is hard, showing his distaste and punishing himself. ‘And scrub my hands’, wanting to be cleansed of responsibility, like Pinpoint Pilate, but it does not fully release him from fault.
The power of this poem inspires in the responder an attitude of shock and horror at the scenes depicted, sharing the revulsion of the persona. Robert Gravy’s ‘North Coast Town’ focuses upon what Gray sees as the extraction of our physical and natural environment-the spread of our destructive, ugly and horrid human development and spread of arbitration, which also creates the demutualization, and alienation for man. Like The Networks’ its message of disgust concerning the conflict between man and his environment is shown through strong images.
For instance the horrid image of an exploited beach at the start of the poem is shown well with the use of its sensual words, the ‘sight’ of the Shell Station-an eyesore, the slushy ‘feel’ of the water at a tap, the disgusting ‘smell’ of the vandals’ lavatory, the interactive ‘sound’ of a urinal and the horrid ‘taste’ of the floury apple. Other images that are created are the metaphor involving the car ‘car after car now’ showing the speed and strength of human development is closing In upon nature.
Furthermore the car is one of the major sources of pollution and destruction of our world, and its use is also intended to show that the car is the ‘vehicle’ for the spread of destruction. Traveling through the north coast town the persona further sees the unattractiveness and eyesores of human development before creating the strongest imagery in the last stanza, ‘The lace is becoming chrome, tile-facing, and plate-glass: they’re making California’ its’ meaning is that they are creating and copying something that is a culture change and totally unnatural to these surroundings.
But the persona has left the strongest message for his final line, ‘Pass an ABA, not attempting to hitch, outside town. ‘ This line shows the demutualization and alienation the spread of development has created. This lonely soul is dejected and isolated with his world and culture having been destroyed within his own land.. The power of this poem inspires in the responder an attitude of shock ND horror at the scenes depicted, sharing the revulsion of the persona.
The extract from Rachel Carbon’s book ‘Silent Spring’, in the stimulus booklet, similarly to Gray, looks at the destructive effects man has on his environment. Carson outlines a scenario in a fable in which a town in America gradually kills itself. The death ‘Everywhere was a shadow of death’ has nothing to do with war or natural disaster but with man’s carelessness and lack of foresight into the world around him The people had done it themselves’.