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Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring sample essay

Throughout time, American attitudes towards the importance of the environment have lessened. American farmers have begun to use poisons, such as parathion, which has begun killing animals and humans. Rachel Carson, a noted biologist, published her novel Silent Spring in 1962, in which she illustrates the need for American attitudes towards the environment needing to change, through understanding “plain folks”, an accusing tone, and descriptive imagery.

Rachel Carson provides examples of understandable “plain folks” to express her argument to the reader. It was said that, “…In California orchards sprayed this same parathion, workers handling foliage that had been treated a month earlier collapsed and went into shock, and escaped death only through skilled medical attention.” She then goes on to ask, “Does Indiana still raise any boys who roam through woods or fields and might even explore the margins of a river?…” These specific examples illustrate how much Americans do not see that they are causing pain to each other, and in severe cases causing death.

Rachel Carson, in illustrating her point that American attitudes toward the environment need to change, points the finger at American farmers who are using parathion and other poisons, which are the cause of death to humans and birds which bringing harm to the environment. What Rachel Carson is trying to get Americans, especially American farmers, to see is that in order to stop all the killing and harm to the environment, and to each other, they need to stop the use of parathion and other poisons. Rachel Carson uses an accusing tone to express her feelings towards her argument that Americans do not worry about the environment enough. Throughout the selection, Carson shifts from what is happening to the black birds, to what is happening to the humans. Both the humans and the birds are dying due to the farmers using parathion.

In the text, she says that “The Fish and Wildlife Service has found it necessary to express serious concern over this trend, pointing out that “parathion treated areas constitute a potential hazard to humans, domestic animals, and wildlife.’” Following this quote, Rachel Carson goes on to accuse farmers of the casualty list of “some 65,000 red-winged black birds and starlings.” Carson explains that, “…The problem could have been solved easily by a slight change in agricultural practice.” Through this quote, Carson is accusing the American, especially American farmers, of not trying to use practices other than poisons, such as parathion, to keep the birds and animals out of the crops.

Rachel Carson uses descriptive imagery to express her continuing strong feelings towards Americans lack of attitude toward the environment and it needing to change. In the text, Carson mentions “Who made the decision that sets in motion these chains of poisonings, this ever-widening wave of death that spreads out, like ripples when a pebble is dropped into a still pond?”. While this is both a simile and a rhetorical question, the way the author states “…like ripples when a pebble is dropped into a still pond?” makes the reader be able to imagine dropping a pebble into water when they were younger and reminds them of what that looked like.

Carson also describes, “Who has placed in one pan of the scales the leaves that might have been eaten by the beetles and in the other the pitiful heaps of many-hued feathers, the lifeless remains of the birds that fell before the unselective bludgeon of insecticidal poisons?” While the reader might think to themselves; why is she comparing leaves that have been eaten by beetles and dead birds? One can actually imagine placing these two things in two different piles.

Rachel Carson uses different rhetorical devices throughout her novel Silent Spring. She uses the rhetorical devices to prove her point that American attitudes toward the environment needs to change. She strongly believes that the attitudes need to change, and she found many ways to prove her point and make the reader agree with her.

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