“A Fable for Tomorrow” was intended by the author Rachel Carson to serve as a warning for the overuse of pesticides in the eco-system. Published in 1962, the town described in the essay initially epitomizes the small towns of another time when everything seemed in perfect harmony with nature. The animals survived in the natural world with the beauty of the flora surrounding them.
Describing a paradise, the birds found food in winter; the deer grazed hidden in the misty morning; the fish swam in the unsullied, clear water. This was life as God intended it to be.
Through the use of pesticides, man altered the balance of nature. Not only did the vegetation and animal life suffer, but the doctors were overwhelmed with the odd diseases that came into their offices. The herbicides and insecticides skewed the environment.
Carson’s argument portrays the lack of reproduction which the “white powder” impacts. The chicken lays eggs but do not produce chicks. The birds were either dead or migrated to another site. No fruit, bees, or other animals could sustain life.
The problems presented in the imaginary town find roots in other real locations where incidences like those in the essay have actually occurred. Carson describes the blight of the white power or pesticides as an evil spell that settled on the community. She never denotes exactly what the actual “evil spell” is in the fable. Using the metaphor of the evil spell, the author explains it is a mysterious malady that wipes out entire flocks of sheep and herds of cattle. Man has done this to himself.
No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world…A grim spectre has crept upon us almost unnoticed, and this imagined tragedy may easily become a stark reality we all shall know.
Carson’s purpose is not to deride the American public; rather, she hopes that awareness of the problem will stop the immoral use of a product that can induce such harm to man and his world.
Between the years of 1946-1964 the American population size rapidly increased. After World War II had ended in 1945, soldiers came back home from war with a desire to start a family. With a rise in the rates of young American families, and with their growing ambitions to live on their own, the concept of suburbia was created. This concept entailed the images of white picket fences and lush grass lawns, but along with these ideals came the notion of mass production.
The stereotypical young American families during the post World War II time period were intrigued by products that were new, easily accessible, and easy to control. The creation of the highway systems and supermarkets provided Americans with the opportunities they needed to obtain these new products. Family size soon began to increase to two or more children per household, and the government believed it was necessary to increase the production not only of goods, but of produce as well.
With a growing appetite for fresh produce, agricultural workers began to use insecticides and other pesticides to ensure the produce maintained a healthy appearance. The pesticides used poisoned invasive species, but while Americans did not know it at the time, humans were being poisoned as well. Insects soon formed a resilience towards the pesticides being used, leading to the requirement of stronger chemicals within the pesticides. DDT, an odorless, colorless, and tasteless toxin was added to all forms of pesticides. Unaware of the consequences, Americans trusted the use of DDT, incorporating the toxic chemical in more than one aspect of their lives. In 1962, a marine biologist named Rachel Carson, opened the public’s eyes to how dangerous pesticides are for not only insects, but for all living organisms.
Published in 1962, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson allowed Americans to understand what was happening within their government and how the environmental decisions and actions they proceeded with created repercussions that impacted the health of the environment, and of humans.
Chapter 1 of Rachel Carson’s bookSilent Spring describes an American city that begins as a vigorous green rural environment. Carson makes it very easily noticeable that there is life and beauty within the city at the beginning of the chapter, but as the chapter proceeds, things begin to change.
“The roadsides, once so attractive, were now lined with browned and withered vegetation as though swept by fire…this town does not actually exist, but it might easily have a thousand counterparts in America or elsewhere in the world” -Rachel Carson pg. 3 Ch. 1
Through the imagery she provides Rachel Carson is able to describe the silencing of life within rural communities. Due to the parable as the first chapter, Carson is able to captivate an American audience of young and elderly adults. At the end of the chapter Carson describes how the town described did not exist, but she wrote the parable in a way that allowed Americans to relate this dying of an ecosystem to their own towns and cities. The ability of Americans to understand what Carson was describing and due to the reason that they were easily able to relate to the story, proved that the parable was an effective method as a first chapter of her book.
This parable set the mood for the rest of the book. It allowed American audiences to understand that this book was going to be written in a simplistic way that they could understand what was occurring within their government, and within their environment. The entertaining short story at the beginning of this book provides an intriguing way to captivate an audience to read the rest of her book. This allowed Americans to become fully aware of the environmental issues with pesticides prior and during the 1960s. Once Americans were informed with this knowledge from her book they did not sit by idly. Americans began striving for change and numerous policies and acts were passed throughout the government to promote positive environmental change and a new trust within the government.