Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Week 2 Prompt 1

Jayani Muniappan 

Misanthropy can be defined as a hatred or distrust towards mankind. Being this far into the memoir, it is clear that Abbey has a strong distaste for mankind and their actions towards his beloved wilderness.  He is a strong advocate for all things nature, and it is through this viewpoint that we are able to see Abbeys strong distaste towards mankind.

From the initial chapters in the memoir, the audience can see Abbeys distaste of mankind. He isolates himself, from all mankind, showing his lack of interest in his fellow species. It is a foreshadowing, per se of the harsher statements Abbey will be making about his hatred of mankind.  As the memoir progresses, Abbey speaks in awe of nature and the wilderness that he is surrounded by. However his tone immediately becomes harsh and agitated when he begins to talk about other humans. The passage on page 154, illustrated how Abbey is able confront mankind for all their wrongdoings against nature.  His sarcastic, tone though initially light turns caustic as he directly attacks all of the nations actions.

Abbey is beyond frustrated with the human race. He is unable to understand why they cant leave nature alone. His frustration stems from the fact that so much valuable land is being destroyed, to accommodate the ways of the lazy. It seems as though he believes that people who are unwilling to enjoy nature as is dont deserve to experience it at all.

Abbeys strong desire for solitude also shows his mistrust in mankind. His yearning for isolation is metaphorically demonstrated in the Moon Eyed Horse chapter.  It is apparent that the horse is a symbol of independence, solitude and rebellion against society. The Moon-Eyed horse choses to live alone in nature unbothered and separated from society. This is the life that Abbey also wants, as he also desires to seek solitarily throughout the book. It is this search for isolation that caused me to believe that Abbey is truly a misanthrope.

Abbeys take on people is humorous but warm. It's for the corporation and the government he saves his bitterness. His dystopic prophecy of "industrial tourism," where the national parks become national parking lots and the wilderness a highway for people too lazy to step farther from their cars to snap a photo.
Separating these portraits and tirades are luxurious descriptions of the land. Abbey describes this world with such care. The audience feels as though theyre standing there - the yellow cactus flower bright against the plant's green flesh.

Alone but not lonely, he strains to resist the impulse to personify the desert, to attach human motives to it. He denies the human need to seek understanding, awakening, or divine intention in the desert; refuses to find meaning in it.

His is a serene, noble pessimist, accepting only the objectivity of rock: "The finest quality of this stone, these plants and animals, this desert landscape is the indifference manifest to our presence, our absence, our coming, our staying or our going. Whether we live or die is a matter of absolutely no concern whatsoever to the desert."

He is, perhaps, a misanthrope, resenting the tourists who disturb his solitude, comparing Los Angeles with death. But neither does he fit neatly in the current conception of the environmentalist. While he meticulously spares an intruding rattlesnake he torments and and kills a rabbit when the whim takes him. He drinks, he smokes, and he eats red meat. He carves his initials in the trunks of quaking aspens. As much a naturalist as a radical conservationist, Abbey presents contradictions that defy the political classifications of the 21st century. 

In conclusion, Abbey wants to experience the moment when he has only original thoughts and the ultimate freedom to do what he wants to. However he came to the conclusion that this is impossible. To reach this state one would have to separate them from every thought about civilization, it would have to be just man and nature. Abbey describes the Moon-Eyed Horse and uses him as a symbol of what he wishes he could do: just stay out in the desert and be content with being alone. The horse is what we all should be an ideal figure like god. We hope it is attainable but we will never know until we are finished with the journey.


  1. There were two different critiques I have regarding your essay. The first is that the introduction about Abbey's misanthropy is pretty repetitive. The same idea is reiterated multiple times over throughout the first two paragraphs. I would recommend that you cut the first two paragraphs down into a few sentences. Or you could expand on the idea while not repeating the idea to take the place for the fist two paragraphs.
    Also, it seems that the essay conflicts with itself. You originally start out by saying that Abbey is a misanthropist and provide textual examples of it as evidence, yet a few paragraphs down (the fifth paragraph) you say his take on people is humorous and warm, and that he truly only despises the government officials that try to regulate the wilderness. The fact that you argue both ideas at different points in the essay makes it difficult to pinpoint the argument that the essay is making. I would recommend trying to discern which way you want the essay to go, and eliminate all text that is for the other argument. This way, your essay can make a more clear and concise argument as a whole.

  2. Your first three paragraphs are redundant - they could easily have been trimmed down to one relatively short paragraph. Work on your comma usage - you add unnecessary commas.

    Example 1: The first comma shouldn't be here. "He isolates himself, from all mankind, showing his lack of interest in his fellow species."

    Example 2: The first comma shouldn't be here. "The passage on page 154, illustrated how Abbey is able confront mankind for all their wrongdoings against nature."

    Review your style guide on commas. This page is fine too:

    Most of this essay is a series of impressions. Unfortunately, you have a tendency to borrow your impressions without citation: Don't do that again.

    I continue to like what you have to say about the horse, but you need to develop those thoughts and polish them, rather than misusing other people's words and wandering in random directions.


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