Rachel Carson 1965, Silent Spring
How does the author of the extract use language to convey changes and contrasts in mood and meaning?
Silent Spring was a series of writings, later collected in book from by Rachel Carson, an American writer and marine biologist. The book examined the strong and often detrimental effect that humans have upon the natural environment, particularly the consequences of pesticide use. The title “Silent Spring” suggests a spring season in which no bird song is heard, because all the birds are dead.
The extract “A Fable for Tomorrow” is divided into three distinct sections. In the first two parts the author uses language to create two strong but very different images of a country town in America. Section one offers an idealistic, almost fairy tale version of a town. The language is wealthy and full of colour; she writes of “green fields” and a “blaze of colour”; “harmony”, “prosperous farms”; sights which “delighted the traveller’s eyes”. She builds a picture with words of a vibrant and successful country town, and describes a wealth of natural beauty through a range of seasons; spring, autumn and winter. The first two paragraphs are full of optimism and celebratory language.
Paragraphs three and four offer a stark contrast. The town described here is a gloomy, dead place. In the first line the author tells us of a “strange blight” which has befallen the town. She describes mysterious illnesses which have struck down the animals and the people. The picture this time is a grim one, she writes of; “a shadow of death”, “some evil spell” and “mysterious maladies”. In paragraph two “birds came to feed on the berries and the seed heads”; by paragraph four all of the birds are dead. It is as if the words in paragraphs three and four are a negative reflection of those used in one and two.
Her use of language gives a sense of movement to her writing. “Mysterious maladies swept the flocks of... [continues]
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