“Uncle Tungsten” by Oliver Sacks
Oliver Sacks is a neurologist who is also known for being a storyteller ¹. Aside from his career, Sacks is a best-selling author having written twelve books up to date, all bringing together science and art ². One of his earlier pieces is his essay “Uncle Tungsten” which combines passion and the love for science. “Uncle Tungsten” is an essay that shows how passion drives the romance for science, romance being the strong fascination and enthusiasm for science, a “love affair”. Oliver Sacks uses narration to present the idea of romance for science through characters, the concept of a hero, and an ending that provides a lesson learned.
Sacks uses characters, a narrative technique, to present the idea of romance for science through Oliver's observation of uncle Dave and his passion for the metal tungsten. Oliver Sacks tells the story from the point of view of himself as a young boy. He starts out with curiosity and interest in the demonstrations of chemistry presented to him by his uncle, and soon grows an understanding of the “love affair” for science. Uncle Dave has one of the biggest impacts on Sacks’s life, being the one who taught him the most about chemistry as a child. Dave displays a love for the chemistry of metals, specifically tungsten, through the great passion he has for his work. The metal tungsten is more than just a metal to Dave, it is “his metal” (Sacks 217), the use of “his” gives tungsten more meaning with his use of possession of the metal. Dave’s passion for tungsten presents the idea of romance for science because of his enthusiasm and fascination in tungsten, “Uncle loved the density of the tungsten he made, and its refractoriness, its great chemical stability. He loved to handle it” (Sacks 215) .
The next narrative technique that can be analyzed is the concept of a hero, which presents the idea of romance for science by expressing the...