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Analysis of “The Obligation to Endure”

Free Book ReviewsRachel Louise Carson, the author of the essay “The Obligation to Endure”, was a professor. Apart from that, she was involved in the fields of editorial work, writing, and aquatic biology. She was awarded several prizes, like Science Writing Award and National Book Award, for her work. Some of her most famous creations are “The Sea Around Us”, “The Edge of the Sea”, and “Silent Spring”. In the literary essay “The Obligation to Endure”, Carson depicts relationships between nature and human beings. She closely scrutinized biological order and the agricultural system. In this essay, she argues that human beings are to suffer for their wrongdoings.

The writer argues that there is a strong relationship between living beings and their surroundings. The environment has shaped the physical form and habits of people and animals on earth. This shaping and molding took hundreds of thousands of years. The period of people living on earth is very short in comparison to the whole span of existence of the universe. Unfortunately, it is a pity that human beings who gained significant knowledge and power are using them to change the nature and normal behavior of the world for which present and, of course, future generations must pay a high price in the long run. The most significant environmental problems are air pollution, water pollution, and earth pollution, which are caused by using dangerous and deadly materials including several inorganic components. In this regard Carson (1987) says the following:

In this now universal contamination of the environment, chemicals are the sinister and little-recognized partners of radiation in changing the very nature of the world — the very nature of its life. Strontium 90, released through nuclear explosions into the air, comes to earth in rain or drifts down as fallout, lodges in soil, enters into the grass or corn or wheat grown there, and in time takes up its abode in the bones of a human being, there to remain until his death (p. 84).

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The writer also argues that adjustment to these chemicals will require a long time. This time frame is not merely several years or decades but takes the life of generations since it took a long for nature to become what it is today. The author presents her argument against pesticide use to her audience very effectively, which ultimately led to the prohibition of the detrimental pesticide DDT. Carson writes a great influential essay, where she provides various scientific facts and information and explains her arguments to her audience. She also managed to integrate her own view throughout the entire essay quite successfully. She claims that the pace of modification and the speed with which new changes are made follow the impulsive and reckless pace of a man.

Carson presents a wide range of facts about pesticide use. She manages to explain scientific truth about the harmful effect of pesticide use that leads to another argument. She explains how pesticides are responsible for various environmental damages. She proves her argument that pesticides should not be used. By relying on scientific facts and arguments, Carson depicts how pesticides have certain chemicals that irreversibly contaminate the environment and existing creatures and defines pesticides as evil pollutants. Thus, her effective description and persuasion about the harmful effect of pesticides make the reader think about whether pesticides are necessary for agriculture or any other sector. She proves the redundancy of using pesticides by stating the fact that pests have the ability to evolve. Therefore, new pesticides have to be created to fight them. The author presents her argument about the uselessness of creating new pesticides to inhibit pests by stating several types of research related to health and the environment. These studies prove that pesticides kill not only harmful insects but also worms and insects that are necessary and useful to maintain the natural environment. The author stresses the damaging effect by using strong words: she claims that these chemicals should be called “biocides” instead of “insecticides”. On the other hand, sprays, dust, and aerosols are often used in cornfields and agriculture-related affairs. These chemicals are also used on farms, in gardens, and in forests. These nonselective chemicals have the power to destroy every insect, whether they are “good” or “bad”. These deadly chemicals have the power to stop the song of birds and leaping of fish in the water. All these are to sweep out a few weeds or insects. Carson claims that it is like coating the leaves with a “lethal” film to protect the crops. She connects with her readers by asking whether these types of activities are believable or not.

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The use of chemicals is really harmful to the environment. Carson presents her strong opinion to convince her readers (1987):

These sprays, dust, and aerosols are now applied almost universally to farms, gardens, forests, and homes – nonselective chemicals that have the power to kill every insect, the “good” and the “bad,” to still the song of birds and the leaping of fish in the streams, to coat the leaves with a deadly film, and to linger on in soil — all this though the intended target may be only a few weeds or insects. (p. 85)

She explains that the problem of crop production is another problem and brings the attention of her audience to this question in a very skillful way. She narrates “Yet is our real problem not one of overproduction?”(Carson, 1987, p. 86). Since the use of pesticides is apparently required for the production of all crops, she indicates that most people in the USA have to compensate over a billion dollars to cover the expenditure. This proves that a great deal of research had to be done to illustrate these connections and, therefore, prove her argument. Indeed, she presents numerous reliable research-based evidence to support her argument.

By presenting all this important information, she helps her audience understand the arguments she makes. Considering all noteworthy scientific facts and information and astute elucidations the author presents, it is very common for her readers to be compelled to take the side of Carson’s argument. Carson presents several examples in favor of her argument, which is witty and intelligent and has scientific proof behind her claim. First, she describes chemicals as ominous substances and brings the attention of her readers to this fact. After that, she presents scientific facts and arguments in order to inform her readers more fully. She could have described this notion briefly, but she did not do that. She presents a detailed description in her essay, which is full of powerful vocabulary that strengthens her argument. Especially helpful are scientific quotations and explanations she places very skillfully. These quotes are, indeed, compelling as well as emotionally appealing. Carson’s audience can relate to and agree with her views and arguments. She dexterously places the facts and arguments throughout her essay explaining why insect killers should not be used for the management of pests.

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She frequently presents innovative points in her essay following a fact or explanation to make her argument stronger. Carson indicates that the attachment of huge lands to a single crop sets the stage for an explosive increase in particular insect populations. To illustrate this, she refers to a particular event in history where towns were infected by a disease. She used transporting beetle as proof of her argument. The readers are left with no choice but to agree with the views and arguments of the author because the evidence provided by her is nearly impossible to argue against. She also talks about the possibility of a nuclear war:

Along with the possibility of the extinction of mankind by nuclear war, the central problem of our age has therefore become the contamination of man’s total environment with such substances of incredible potential for harm-substances that accumulate in the tissues of plants and animals and even penetrate the germ cells to shatter or alter the very material of heredity upon which the shape of the future depends (p. 85).

From the above description, it is clear that Carson decides to reveal the negative effects and effects of using chemical insecticides by relying on scientific facts and explanations instead of her own dogmatic statements. It is one of her persuasive essays, which is valid and successful. She has been able to present a true argument, which is impossible to oppose. Proper scientific evidence and proofs made the essay an innovative one. Compared to other essays, “The Obligation to Endure” will stay in the memory of a reader much longer. It is due to the clever use of research-based evidence in it. The author’s compassionate feeling for nature, its problems, and solutions is presented in a really effective way. She presents some logical facts that cannot be overlooked. Based on her research, Carson delivers these logical and experimented truths in a persuasive way. Her dexterous use of scientific facts and information, including well-organized explanations, make her audience well informed on the topic of pesticide use. Readers can also appreciate a major argument about the urgent need to end the use of detrimental pesticides. In conclusion, Carson has effectively convinced her audience to follow her argument, providing a great deal of evidence that helps her make a point.


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