Ants

Topics: Plantation, Dam, Problem solving Pages: 2 (814 words) Published: February 26, 2014
The district commissioner (who narrates the radio adaptation in the first person) describes the threat Leiningen faces: "Ten miles long, two miles wide—ants, nothing but ants!” Additionally, each ant is approximately the size of a man's thumb and wants to consume any form of life that falls in its path. (If this description is accurate, it means there are roughly 64 billion ants in the swarm; the entire human population at the time was less than 2 billion.) It is also mentioned that they can completely pick the flesh from a stag in six minutes. The action is set "in the Brazilian rainforest", where Leiningen (who is referred to ambiguously as one of several "settlers" in the area) owns a large plantation. Leiningen owns a coffee plantation and has more than four hundred laborers. He has brought the plantation to high success through his planning, intelligence, knowledge, and reasoned approach to problem solving. The story, as well as the character of Leiningen, stress on several occasions the crucial role that human intelligence and ingenuity play in problem solving. Unlike his fellow settlers, Leiningen is not about to give up years of hard work and planning to "an act of God." He assembles his workers, who are all or mostly indigenous peoples, and informs them of the inbound horror. Though the natives are a naturally superstitious and frightened lot, their respect for and trust in Leiningen enables them to remain calm and determined: "The ants were indeed mighty, but not so mighty as the boss." Later in the story, despite suffering setbacks and being given an offer of dismissal with full pay, most of the laborers choose to stay with Leiningen. Much of the rest of the story is taken up with the days-long struggle in which Leiningen attempts to hold off the huge swath of ants. He uses an ingenious system of levees, moats and "decoy" fields to keep the ants at bay. For example, he draws off some of the ants to a valueless fallow field, while keeping a large...
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