Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Week 2, Prompt 1: Misanthropy

In his book “Desert Solitaire” Abby displays distrust for humanity. He describes it as misanthropic. He expresses it directly and also indirectly through the use of story telling. Readers could misinterpret him for a bitter introvert who hates people. When in actuality Abby would love to have family or friends with him at some points. He does not hate people or necessarily humanity, but rather the warped society that is created by our less desirable qualities.
            You could not say that Abby hates people. In his chapter Cowboys and Indian part two he directly states that he gets lonely he says “that the one thing better than solitude, the only thing better then solitude is society” (Abby 97). He then goes onto explain that his definition of society is not a city, but a group of friends or family. Abby makes it very clear that he is not a people hater. He appreciates people their qualities and the relationships you can build with them. His loneliness is also expressed by him often displacing qualities he misses from humanity onto aspects of nature. These small descriptions make it seem impossible for Abby to hate Humanity either. Abby does not hate all people or all of humanity. What he does hate is the destructive culture we have some how taken on.
            Abby is clearly able to discuss this general hatred for our evolving culture through many little rants or short stories. He shows a clear hatred for anyone who disrupts or destroys the natural order of nature. He says that sheepherders are “as hog-rich as they are pig headed” (31). He thinks that their persecution of the wolves is ridiculous if one whole pack could be supported on one sheep, and they don’t need the money. He continues on with his hatred of humanities destructions by describing the industry that national parks are becoming. He dislikes the tourist industry because they are disrupting nature. He believes everyone should vacation to a national parks but not interfere just observe. In his chapter Rocks he describes the greed of prospectors as they mined for rocks. In his chapter Cowboys and Indians he describes how both groups are disappearing. cowboys to the modernized food industry and the Indians to tourism. He says “Cowboys and Indians disappear, dying off or transforming themselves by torturous degrees into something quite different. The originals are nearly gone and will soon be lost forever in the overwhelming crowd” (Abby 111). There is a certain amount of sympathy Abby makes us feel for these dying cultures. We feel slight disgust with a country that claims to be accepting of many cultures, but ends up killing them off.
            In his chapter Down the River he is more direct about his feelings. He starts off by belittling the government witch he refers to as the “Beavers” for building a damn and flooding the Glen Canyon (151). He hates it because it was and interference that ruined the canyon witch he refers to as “Eden” (152). This dam is made even more offensive because of its lack of purpose. He goes on a journey to see the dam and afterwards is so angry he discuses the idea of misanthropy. Misanthropy is a distrust or disdain for Human nature. He mentions other writers who were also clearly dissatisfied with humanity. He then goes on listing all the things he hates about humanity “ The useless crap we burry ourselves in”, “The domestic routine”, “Crafting cheating”, and “Slimy advertising of business men” (Abby 155). He hates not humanity but the society and destructive culture we live in. Abby I think believes our greed and selfishness has manifested into this culture we have. So Abby doesn’t hate all human qualities just the destructive self involved ones. He hates consumerism and commerce, But not companionship. Abby’s distrust of human nature is what makes him misanthropic, but you have to make sure you do not confuse his distrust for hatred.


  1. Your intro is clear and focused. Avoid. Sentence. Fragments.

    I would have liked an example of how he displaces human characteristics onto nature, but I think most readers will follow you here - it's a good explanation for his tendency to anthropomorphize (could the relationship between his apparent misanthropy and his anthropomorphism have made its way into your thesis? That would have helped you focus even more).

    One thing I take away from your third paragraph is that Abbey is advocating for underdogs vs. "winners." Believe it or not, Abbey worked for some time basically as a welfare case worker - a background which fits *really* well with what you're saying. I would have liked to hear more about your interpretation in this paragraph - it's good material, but your argument isn't as direct as it could be.

    Your last paragraph is ok, but doesn't make as much progress as I'd like. "He hates not humanity but the society and destructive culture we live in." -- you're repeating yourself, rather than pinning this down further. What is it about the society? Where does he find the destruction? This paragraph implies that the "beaver" side of humanity is what he hates - is Abbey attacking large-scale Society vs. small-scale society specifically because he sees excessive building as a problem?

    This is really pretty good. I'm curious what else you could have done with your passing comment about the displacement of human characteristics onto nature, and the last paragraph is vaguer than it could be, but your focus is good, as is your use of examples and your insight into Abbey.

  2. Olivia--this was a really good essay. I like how you narrowed down Abbey's "misanthropy" to a hatred of evolving society in general. I wish you had expanded more on this idea in the third paragraph. In the second paragraph you talk about how Abbey "does not hate all people or all of humanity," I find this contradictory to your argument that Abbey hates our modern culture because isn't that, to Abbey, all of humanity anyway? Maybe if you clarified by saying that Abbey does not hate people on a personal basis, your argument would be more coherent.

    There are a lot of examples in the text of Abbey's hatred of society and it would have added a lot to you essay to use quotes from other parts of the book as well. Overall, I thought your argument was clearly stated and supported very well throughout the essay.


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