Analysis of Ron Rash's Novel, Serena

Topics: Sometimes Pages: 2 (692 words) Published: November 19, 2013
Ron Rash’s novel, Serena, is a captivating tale that uses callus power to draw readers into a harsh world. Serena Pemberton is a contemporary villain that disregards all life and nature in pursuit of her ambitions. Yet Serena is a part of that nature acting as a deadly predator capable of handling any threat. The violent manner in which Serena addresses the threats of the land, the national park, and Pemberton’s illegitimate son are what make Ron Rash’s novel both a good and thrilling read. Serena is a character motivated by her ambition. Particularly, her goal to pioneer the mahogany woods of the Brazil forests. The North Carolina timberlands are what stand in the way of that goal and must be dealt with as quickly and cheaply as possible. The workers inadvertently suffer as a result of this. Serena is pleased that the depression will allow workers to be disposable and willing to work for less. Upon learning that the workers wouldn’t have electricity, Serena states “They’ll work harder if they live like Spartans” (17). Beyond Serena’s disregard of the workers, there is a disregard of the land itself. To Serena the Appalachian is a means to an end which becomes a desiccated mass. “As the crews moved forward, they left behind an ever-widening wasteland of stumps and slash, brown clogged creeks awash with dead trout… the valley and ridges resembled the skinned hide of some animal” (115, 334). Serena’s cold regard of the workers and the land allow readers to glimpse at her vicious nature later revealed in the story. That glimpse is enough to capture the attention of readers at a basic level and draw them into Rash’s story of brutality in pursuit of power. When the petition of a national forest threatens to stop the timber company from the continual destruction of the land, Serena’s darker nature is revealed. At first, Serena encourages her husband to secure as much land as possible with his partners. But when partner, Buchanan, makes the mistake of showing weakness...
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