Criminals with Character

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Heroic Criminals

All throughout childhood we are taught that breaking the law is bad and the people who do are criminals and should be punished. Edward Abbey, author of The Monkey Wrench Gang, and Carl Hiaasen, author of Sick Puppy, alter these thoughts. Both novels focus on adventuresome environmentalists who stir up trouble in means of standing up for their beliefs. Both Abbey and Hiaasen construct higher and natural laws over the traditional justice system that gives characters justification for their actions. Ethically we as humans should not side with these rebellious characters, but the theme is so central in the books cover-to-cover that we, as readers, lose sight of morals as the authors manipulate us to become completely invested in these heroic criminals.

With sharp uses of characterization and description, Edward Abbey glorifies the art of law breaking and leaves his readers cheering for the heroic criminals. Throughout The Monkey Wrench Gang, the group of four activists set out to destroy bridges, signs, bulldozers and anything else harming the American southwest. From the very beginning, Abbey illustrates a scene full of the workings of the justice system in his prologue. When describing the ceremony to open the bridge he states, “the bridge stands clear and empty except for…a symbolic barrier of red, white and blue ribbon stretched across the bridge from rail to rail” (3). If the sense of patriotism wasn’t evident enough through images of children eating ice cream cones and people drinking Coca-Cola before that, Abbey drapes the bridge in the colors of our nations flag. His portrayal of the project seems to be adored and almost sponsored by America. He uses the writing technique of verisimilitude throughout the prologue to captivate readers and make them anxious to see who disapproves the project. This is a true introduction and welcoming to rebellious characters. As the novel progresses, we become familiar with the gang: Hayduke, Bonnie,...
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