Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Week 3 Prompt 3

Jayani Muniappan
Week 3 Prompt 3

Throughout the entirety of this memoir Abbey utilizes pieces of writing from a multitude of genres to emphasize his argument. He effectively integrates quotes from poetry and drama into his writing to make his memoir more operative. There are many examples of where Abbey quotes other literary works and through this essay I will be focusing upon two specific ones.
In the chapter Cowboys and Indians Part II, Abbey refers to William Blake’s Evening Star.  
“Thou fair hair'd angel of the evening,
Now, while the sun rests on the mountains light,
Thy bright torch of love; Thy radiant crown
Put on, and smile upon our evening bed!
Smile on our loves…”
Through this poem, Blake is conveying the notion that stars bring peace and direction to society during the generally hostile night. Blake utilizes metaphors to associate the star to a "fair-haired angel." This metaphor expresses the shining star as a beautiful goddess who looks over the people during the dark night. Blake also calls the star a bright torch of love, which conveys a beaming and heroic quality to the star. In To the Evening Star, Blake successfully portrays how elements of nature come together to create a beautiful, perfect situation. The star glows luminously, the wind gently blows, and the lake mirrors the light. These three actions come together to produce a beautiful scenery which humans can take advantage of every night. It is this concept, which I felt Abbey was attracted to. This poem portrays nature as a guide, a protector a hero. His use of this specific passage from the poem highlights his idea that nature is a force that aids society. He is able to subtly show his misanthropy towards the part of society that destroys nature through this passage. He’s is indirectly conveying the idea that humans who destroy nature are destroying themselves, because nature is only a mechanism that aids the society.
The second example that I would like to focus upon would be from Down the River. Abbey integrates a verse of a Tigua Indian tribe’s song.
“My home over there,
Now I remember it;
And when I see it that mountain far away
Why then I weep,
Why then I weep,
Remembering my home.”
The Tigua Indians are one of the few tribes that still live in the Southwest. They named their ancestral home Pueblo Gran Quivera. It was north of El Paso. It was started sometime in 800 AD, but by the early 1300’s it was one of the largest towns. The Indians lived peacefully for some time, but in the 1600s Spaniards came and established settlements around the Tigua’s homes. With them, they brought not only unwarranted authority but also diseases and epidemics that caused loss of many Tigua Indian lives. More bad luck found this tribe in the the 1670s, when a drought struck the area for many years. By 1675 the Indians were so desperate that they had to leave their home behind. The Gran Quivera was forcefully left behind. The song that Abbey quotes is a way for the Tigua to remember the home of their ancestors and pay their respects to all the lives that were lost. Abbey integrates this specific song, because he is able to show all that is lost with the actions of human kind. He uses this literary work as a loose comparison to what is happening to our wildlife. The wildlife is the Tigua and humans are the Spaniards. The wildlife exists peacefully on its own. It doesn’t bother anything or anyone, it’s just there, like the Tigua Indians. But as soon as the Spanish came and interfered with the lives of the Tigua, everything took a turn for the worst, just like society. As soon as society interfered with the wildlife and nature in general, everything good about nature was slowly being taken away. Abbey sheds bright light on the fat that by trying to change nature we are slowly causing it to deteriorate.

In conclusion, Abbey has found a way to use the works of others to support his views. He could’ve just stated his ideas, but he takes the extra step to use the work of other authors. Why? Personally I believe that the use of other literary works not only strengthens his argument but also shows Abbey’s literary skill. He is able to integrate seemingly unrelated ideas into evidence for his claims. The use of the different genres allows for connections between different pieces of works and allows the reader to think more deeply about to the memoir.


Abbey, E. (1971). Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness . Ballatine Books .
Emily's Poetry Blog . (2013 , S trieved from
Moore, R. E. (2012). The Tigua Indians of Texas. Retrieved from The Tigua Indians of Texas:

1 comment:

  1. Both of your examples are reasonable, and I think you're moving in a reasonable direction with both. I think it was a mistake, though, to use two examples rather than one. You need to spend too much effort simply explaining the basics of the poem and the song, which leaves you (between the two of them) little space left to really work through what they do for Abbey *in context*.

    If you had focused on one rather than two you could have done more with the context in which Abbey uses either work, as well as thinking more about the tragic dimensions of the song (which you hint at), or maybe done a little more research into Blake broadly speaking (Blake saw himself as a kind of prophet - if anyone was ever a mystic, it was him).

    This is a case where less is more, certainly.


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