10th Grade English
Ms. DeAnna Bridges
T. Coraghessan Boyle's "On Top of the Food Chain" is more than just a narration of a selfish person's mistakes. The narrator's tone is a literary element used to show man's indifference for organisms that are of no immediate benefit or are a nuisance to them. _"The thing was, we had a little problem with the insects…"_ The narrator's tone in "Top of the Food Chain" is quickly shown as self-centered in working for his comforts and indifferent to the havoc his choices make on the environment. Humans believe that we can solve everything that is put upon us, but there is always a catch. In this story, Mother Nature proves us that she can always be ahead of how humans perceive things.
From the very first sentence, the narrator is portrayed as a self-serving person. In charge of a group bringing health care to a third-world village, his choices to improve the lives of the villagers lead to wreaking chaos on the local food chain. The improvements start by poisoning the flies. When the geckos that feed off of these flies die due to starvation, the cat population also diminishes. When the cats are gone, the rat population is left unregulated and is allowed to spread disease to the humans and ruin their crops. The narrator's condescending tone towards these disastrous events is the most significant factor that Boyle uses to develop his theme. The narrator assumes he is at the top of the food chain, and he has no problem killing off the smaller species. However, the narrator is too indifferent to realize that by hurting the lower members of the food chain, he has hurt himself. This is what shows the true irony in the story. The narrator did something that he believes is good for him, but instead it ends up being entirely the opposite of it.
The story reflects that humans can do immoral things, without thinking well of the consequences and the...