Characters and Nature

To get things rolling with this first blog I want to look at the relationships between characters in the novel and nature. I know on some level this seems to be the easy way out, however I feel it’s not as cut and dry conversation as you may first believe. Nature obviously plays a prominent role in the work. From the beginning of the novel we are exposed to vibrant descriptions of landscapes rain. Tayo’s two-pronged struggle with rain actually provides an excellent example of one of the first relationships we see between him and nature. We see him first surrounded by the rain in the war, praying for it to stop. We then see him living back home without the rain, wishing for its reappearance. This desire to change the enviorment surrounding him brings to mind the idea introduced in The Unforseen of man wanting to “Whip mother nature into submission”. This character cannot however be reduced to a mere man vs. nature struggle. In these moments Tayo in indeed wishing he could assert his dominance over “Mother Nature”, however as the novel progresses we find that Tayo also see nature as a part of himself. We see this concept clearly in Tayo’s frequent description of his inner feeling metaphorically as acts of nature (bottom of p. 58 provides an excellent example of this). So much is nature apart of Tayo that he believes that the act of hunting and killing animals is in fact the animal giving itself “to them [the hunters] because it loved them” (p.48). Its obvious that the relationship between the characters in the novel and nature is not as cut and dry as at first glance. There is undoubtedly a desire to control nature, while living harmoniously within it. Is this possible? Could Tayo’s mixed relationship with nature have anything to do with his mixed race (symbolically speaking)? How do you see other characters in the novel interacting with nature? I’m interested to know how you feel on the matter.

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One Response to Characters and Nature

  1. macevedo says:

    You raise an interesting topic with your first question, namely what is humanity’s place in nature? Is it possible to control nature and live within it harmoniously? One could posit that humanity has an innate desire to control nature and that therefore by controlling nature we are just doing the natural thing. Mankind is the only animal on Earth that has the intelligence and capabilities to not only adapt to the environment but to adapt the environment to us. (Indoor ski resort in the Middle East? Why the hell not?) So yes, I think it’s totally possible that one can control nature and live harmoniously with it at the same time, just depends on how you look at it.