Monday, June 20, 2005

I'd like to first thank everyone for their patience with Seth in Mondays class, it was much appreciated. He actually had a great time in his first university English class. (and last for many years I would hope) I've been reading the novel we have assigned to us for Mondays class Earth Abides by George R. Stewart and have several comments to post from the first chapter. As some of you may already be way ahead of me in the reading you may have the answers and comments to the questions and comments I make already, so please ignore me ignorance as i'm not that far along yet and want to make note of certain points as I work through the book.
The first passage in the novel is of a radio broadcast which immediatly sets the stage somewhat for us as to the current state of the world. What I find quite interesting is the additional asides that are consistant throughout the chapter which make us think of of our own state in the world today. Take for instance the quote '"It has never happened!" cannot be construed to mean, "It can never happen!" - as well to say, "because I have never broken my leg, my leg is unbreakable," or "Because I have never died I am immortal."' This particular excert I feel many people can relate to especially those of youth, which of course the protaganist of the book is to a large extent. This quote can be related to the majority of peoples selective ignorance to the tragedies in life. As is the situation in the book a plague that would wipe out a civilization is a concept many people would care not even fantom for it gives us a sense of mortality, a sense that we are not as indestructable as a species as we may hope.
George Stewart also adds another aside that tells of the distinction of Captin Maclear's rat, a species that once had a vast population. It can easily be related to the human species as it exists today. We are currently a world that has become overpopulated with not enough natural resources and food to sustain the human race. It is because of lack of food available that the majority world is forced to starvation and lack of the basic necessities of life. There are of course the minority of individuals that are "extremely well nourished, and even unduly fat." There is in current day diseases that can have the potentional to wipe out our population, one such disease would be AIDS. Though it is prodominant in the poverty striken parts of the world it is quite steadily making it's way into the areas of the "extremely well nourished, and even unduly fat." aka. developed nations.
It is worth mentioning actions of the main character once he realized that "civilization" quite possibly had seen it's demise. There immediatly came the internal fight to keep living as civilization once did or because of the absence of civilization do as he wanted and needed. We saw his struggle to either maintain his conception of civilization or to abandon it through his decision to break into the shop to retreive the newspaper and through his decision to ignore the dead bodies he passed on the streets.
The end of the chapter leaves the reader considering as the protaginist is thinking "what do we do from here, when civilization as we know it has collapsed?" and "How do we move on as a society?", "Can we?"

3 Comments:

Blogger Miriam Jones said...

In your email to me you asked about copyright, but I will answer you here so that anyone else wondering can read the answer too.

What you have done in this post is just fine: you have quoted small sections from a novel, made it clear which words were your own and which were quoted, and named the novel. In a written piece of course you would have the edition of the novel at the end, and you would include page references. Often when referring to a text I link the first mention of the title to the edition I'm using, at Chapters/Indigo, Amazon.ca, or the individual publisher's site. Also, page numbers are useful, since this is a class, but blogging is a more casual format.

Don't worry about Seth; it was fun to meet him. He is a little pixie. You're brave; if I gave my son Coke he would be bouncing around off the walls. (I have him convinced it's "a grown-up drink," so I can still drink it!)

I like what you say about the novel here. I think you have identified some of the major themes (overpopulation and the results; comparisons of humans to other animals) as well as characteristics (his asides, and how he uses them).

4:58 AM  
Blogger Debra said...

Hi Charlene. It was nice to meet you and Seth at class. You raise some interesting points - I too was thinking what would I choose if the same thing happened to me. I think the loneliness would be increadibly debilitating but then suicide would not be an option for me either. I am now on Chapter 6 and loving it. More later! Debra

6:09 AM  
Blogger Lucy said...

No need to apology. Seth was a breath of fresh air. Considering the topic we are studying it was nice to have his energy around us to lighten the mood.

Your posting is very interesting to me. I will be presenting on Monday and I have re-examined the first chapter a few times this week. I tend to believe Stewart wrote this book for a young audience. He was teaching at Berkeley and knew his book would be read by the students. Stewart was also very ecologically aware and wanted to pass on his concerns about the environment. By mentioning the extinction of a species because of overpopulation and lack of resources, Stewart is passing a message along to his readers that we should be learning from nature. It is interesting that Stewart ends the chapter with his protagonist struggling with a desire to carry on as before, even though the devastation he has just witnessed is the end result of that very life style he wishes to "move on" with.

11:33 AM  

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