While reading the second half of By the Shores of Silver Lake, I was struck by a passage that conveys the growth of Laura throughout the story. After happily rolling around in the grass, Laura finds herself wondering “’Have I got a grass stain on my dress?’” (271, Wilder), followed by a gloomy return to her work and chores. I found this passage sad because it represents a loss of innocence. It is obviously a reflection of Laura’s transition into adulthood, but it makes me wonder whether it is necessary to lose those childhood joys in order to become a successful adult. Should an adult feel guilty about taking a break once in a while to lay in the grass and enjoy themselves? Although leaving behind frivolous activities often is associated with becoming an adult, I think that it is a mistake of humans to assume that as adults you should not be able to be silly and have fun as you did when you were a child.
In finishing this book I found that the most of the events were sparked by the mysterious wolf Laura and Carrie saw. Starting from Pa finding the Homestead all the way to opening his store. Although I claim that the wolf had a great significance on the story I don’t completely understand its symbolism. One thought that comes to mind was that the pack of wolves was a metaphor and foreshadowing for Laura’s family. As the wolves seem to travel a lot throughout the second half of the book, so does the family throughout their lives. Just an intriguing thought.
When the wolves came into play in the novel, when they first appeared on that snowy night, that was what led Pa to find the homestead. But how could a book that depicts nature in a way that is more about taming the west than leaving the west be, still have nature as a factor that brings about positive change? Could it be that the book says not that nature is there for pure exploitation but that nature is to be conserved? Does the book strike that balance between conservation and preservation well? This book is a welcome change of pace from the partially "New Left" ideas that nature is approached with in Desert Solitaire. It exemplifies that man is a greater creature simply blessed with more effective and complex tools to shape his environment more than any other creature to have lived on earth.
While reading the chapter "Wolves on Silver Lake", I was really confused with the symbolism of the buffalo wolves. In the real world, if two people were in the woods and they come face to face with two buffalo wolves, chances are that they would most likely become dinner. I was also confused by the use of a buffalo wolf and not just any ordinary wolf. If this specific wolf can take down buffalo, then they can certainly take down two little girls. So why didn't they attack them? After only reading "Wolves on Silver Lake", I immediately thought that the wolves only symbolized fear, but as I continued onto the next chapter, "Pa finds the Homestead", I knew that that was not the case. Pa describes, "From the time they left the old den, those wolves never stopped. They trotted along, side by side, as if they had started a long journey and knew where they were going," (Wilder 171). This description made me realize that the wolves did not symbolize fear. These buffalo wolves symbolized the family's journey from there "old den" to their new one.
Whilst reading "Pa's Bet," I was struck by Pa's account of filing the claim for the homestead. Upon overhearing another man bent on claiming the homestead Pa had found, he decides to camp out in front of the office. In the morning's chaos, Pa finds himself blocked from the entrance by a companion of his competitor, but is saved by Mr. Edwards. What is striking about Pa's account is that it exhibits zero enmity towards the men who tried to forcefully seize his homestead. It seems as though the atmosphere of competition is an accepted truth, and that the Ingalls family understands that the men are likely in the same situation as they are.
In the first half of the reading Laura is told that she is expected to be a teacher as her mother was. (I can't seem to find the page this was on.) Ma was a teacher and it was thought that Mary would follow in her steps. Laura detests the idea of settling down and teaching. I find it symbolic that on page 193 Laura's Christmas present is identical to her mother's and stitched by Mary. This could symbolize the expectations for Laura to assume Mary's place and take on the expectation to follow her mother. Throughout the last half of the reading, Laura gets caught up in the possibility of Mary being able to still go to school. It may be Laura's hope that by still being able to go to school, Mary could also still teacher and therefore take her place.
One thing I observed while reading the beginning of "Pa Finds the Homestead" is that Laura thinks a lot like Abbey here. At this point, one would assume that Laura may be afraid of the wolf and want Pa to kill it. Essentially, she would want to feel dominant and powerful as a human in the face of the wild. Yet, much like Abbey, she realizes that this is not her place to assert dominance. During the hours she knows Pa is out hunting, she hopes that he will not kill any wolves saying, "All that morning Laura was listening for a shot and not wanting to hear it," (Wilder 169). Although Laura and Abbey are essentially two completely different people, I think that their ways of thinking are paralleled at times, especially here. I believe you could even argue that they sometimes share a common lens through which they view nature, age and time gaps aside.
Something I find rather interesting overall about "The Shores of the Silver Lake" is that most of the events don't seem to be driven by the characters motives but rather action-reactions. Meaning things happen based off of events instead of based off the characters. I'm not sure what this adds to the overall meaning of the story which I presume is just a coming of age book of Laura growing up into adulthood. I also couldn't derive a single theme from the story- is it that adulthood is about losing your childhood ideals and becoming more idealistic like Laura following Ma's direction to become a teacher? Maybe I'm thinking to broad but the book itself seems to be generally broad.
Once again, this book isn't exactly the kind that appeals to me, but I still managed to find a few somewhat interesting bits. It has to do with the whole maturing theme going on. Basically, in the Spring Rush chapter (Wilder 224), the household is used as a shelter for a bunch of strange men, and their presence intrudes upon their lives. Notably, the girls are told to lock the door, bolt the latch. The implication is clear, that these strange men may come try and harm them. Even later, the visitors (of that night, so different ones) get into a fight, and Laura is told to lie down, conceal herself, to hide. These incidents are ones that come not from the wilderness, but from men like Pa. Also, while it's not directly stated, the implication of why she should be afraid of these strangers is quite clear, and one that would be quite unsettling to a child. It's probably one of the frightening incidents that will help drive her maturity.
silence. I think the wolf in the silent night was surprising. In class we discussed the silence of the plains, and how it represents a death of the Indians and buffalo and just the wild in general, so there being a wolf in the silence was strange. I think the fact that it appears alone is significant because wolves usually travel in pacts.In the next chapter I think the symbolism becomes clearer. Pa’s hunting of the wolves makes it a clear symbol of the persecution of nature. I think it was a good idea to have the wolves not be killed by Pa. It’s not because he all of a sudden had a change of heart, but just because he couldn’t make the shot. The wolves instead leave there home and run away from the family. It signifies the push westward of nature. I know that Laura is supposed to be the voice of reason sometimes between nature and society, but sometimes I think it’s a little too unrealistic. I wish it were more discrete because it seems a little discontinuous with her upbringing. In the wolf chapters Laura keeps saying that she is glad the wolves weren’t shot, and I get that it’s a children’s book, but sometimes it’s a little strange.
I think the symbolism of Laura "seeing for" Mary, as we discussed in class last time, is worthy of attention in this reading. As Laura says on page 58, "there were so many ways of seeing things and so many ways of saying them." Thusfar, I think one of the main themes of this book is the importance and significance of new experiences, or as Laura would say, "seeing things." There are many instances of this throughout the book so far. One that really stands out is when Laura rides the ponies with Lena--an entirely new adventure she has not yet experienced. She gets cut up from the grass, even a bloody nose from butting heads with the horse, yet she is so thirsty for this exhilaration. In general, the family's decision to move out West also reflects this theme of new discovery. Even later in the book as the family celebrates Christmas, this idea of freshness and newness continues its prevalence. With the opportunity for a new beginning, there are countless instances that drive home this theme. On a separate note, I am finding a hard time making deep insights about this book. The storyline as well as Wilder's writing style (intended for a younger audience?) seems to be meant for entertainment more than discussion. Am I not reading between the lines enough?
By The Shores of Silver Lake is a great story. I really enjoyed the detail in the book. Wilder does a great job showing of creating a vivid image of the setting in the mid of the readers. For example, “Beyond the lake’s eastern shore the pale sky was bordered with bands of crimson and gold. Their brightness stretched around the south shore and shone on the high bank that stood up from the water in the east and the north”. This specific description of what Laura saw exemplifies Wilder’s descriptive abilities. Another example, is this passage “she saw the pony’s black mane blowing, and her hand clenched tight in it, she and the pony were going too fast but they were going like music and nothing could happen to her until the music stopped”. Wilder’s made it easy for me to really understand what Laura’s feeling. It almost makes me feel like I’m a part of the story. It also makes it easy to compare modern life with that of the lives of the pioneers. I really enjoyed the book, even in its youthful simplicity.
Although this book is not too appealing to me, I still find some aspects of the story intriguing. In “Wolves on Silver Lake” and “Pa Finds the Homestead”, I think it is worthy of notice that Laura does not want her father to find the wolf because it did not chase her and Carrie. It seems that she made this decision based on right and wrong: if the wolf had given chase, it should have been hunted. However, because it did not act aggressively, no harm should come to it. I believe that this ‘black or white’ reasoning can be thought of as childish and lacking maturity, since many children only think in terms of right and wrong. They do not take into account the dangers of an animal like the buffalo wolf around an area where people are living. I find this ironically funny because I feel that this book is about growing up, and yet Laura reverts back to her age-appropriate feelings towards what she thinks should happen based on the events that had transpired. I also think it’s worth noting that although it is a ‘child-like’ analysis on what should happen to the wolf, it is extremely relatable to Abbey. I feel that he would have agreed with Laura and her reasons behind not wanting the wolf to be hunted. In this way, it can be assumed that Abbey has simple explanations for situations that might be more worrisome than previously thought. Although I found this aspect of the book and its relation to Abbey mildly interesting, I could not help but to agree with Ruthie, in that I find it difficult to make strong connections and understand fully what is insightful about this book.
Lewotin wastes no time, beginning in the first sentence describing the vast amount of misunderstanding surrounding the institution of science. I have to agree with Lewotin when he says that the problems that surround science, although most may say are objective, are really influenced by predisposed ideas based on where we’ve been, what we’ve heard and what we’ve seen. Furthermore, I was surprised how quickly and easily Lewotin jumped into describing science as a scheme right on the first page. He blatantly says that science is monetary funded by, and therefore left in the hands of powerful elitist businessmen who can skew results to their advantage. Lewotin is trying to point out that science and society goals and expectations are more directly correlated than we all think they may be.
Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.