By Jay Parini
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Additional resources for American Writers, Supplement XX
Help him to see his criminal ways and start acting on behalf of the earth by participating in ecoterrorist actions like cementing himself (and his family) into the ground in front of bulldozers, and sabotaging equipment used to cut down trees. After one arrest, Ty observes that his doctor’s arms are “unnaturally long, ape’s arms ѧ Tierwater couldn’t help puzzling over a species so recently come down from the trees and yet so intent on destroying them” (p. 54). There is much irony and foreshadowing in this short phrase: first, Ty sees his own species from a remove; second, in the central tragic event of the book, Ty’s beloved daughter falls to her death from a tree; third, Ty himself is responsible for a setting a massive wildfire that destroys countless trees.
Hopes Rise” tells a tale of the disappearance of frogs and toads from local ecosystems. The title refers to the scientific discovery of tubeworms in a formerly dead stretch of water, but, the narrator isn’t convinced: “What hope. What terrific uplifting news” (p. 36). He and his lover discover a pond full of copulating toads, which is the true source of rising hope for them. They celebrate by lying down to make love amid the toads, which sounds like a positive reunion of humanity and nature, but the story’s final sentence highlights the threat that even the most well-intentioned humans present: “And when I came for her, the toads leapt for their lives” (p.
Stanley McCormick was the heir to the fortune of his father, the inventor of the modern machine reaper. His wife, Katherine Dexter McCormick, was a suffragette and philanthropist. Boyle uses their relationship to meditate on the nature of love and mental illness. Stanley is another hopelessly tragic figure. Over the decades, he is worsened by all of the treatments he undergoes. His illness is never even properly diagnosed; at the beginning of the era of modern psychology, the experts seemed to be learning as they went along.