The Perspectives on Nature in I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing by Walt Whitman, The Open Boat by Stephen Crane, and Skunk Hour by Robert Lowell

December 10, 2020 by Essay Writer

Reading Journal Summative Reflection

Over the course of the semester, it was interesting to discover the various ways American writers have depicted themes of nature. And luckily enough, the perspectives on nature have not been constant—rather, there has been a wide range of ways in which the environment and natural world has been depicted. From the awe-inspiring and positive Walt Whitman’s “I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing” to the completely indifferent and ambivalent Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat” to the dreary and dull Robert Lowell’s “Skunk Hour,” each author’s perspectives and takes on nature has been unique. And while they each for the most part fit in with their era’s literary movement, each writer does not fail to bring something new to the table each time.

There are some patterns that have emerged upon review of my reading journals this semester; for one thing, nature mostly seems to have an important role to play in each of the seven pieces. In Sarah Orne Jewett’s A White Heron, nature is a sacred, wonderful place that should not be destroyed, and in Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” nature is a manipulatively dangerous place. The only one I read in which nature plays an arguably small role is The Open Boat by Stephen Crane—in it, nature is important, but it is personified as an entity that is completely and totally indifferent towards the lives of the characters. In all other pieces, nature has had a message or an intent to convey to the characters; in The Open Boat, it is bored of the characters and doesn’t care if they live or die.

Although each perspective is different, the changes in tone are not consistent nor to they follow any sort of pattern across the time periods. Instead, the writers’ ideas of nature are all over the place, and don’t seem to follow any particular trend. And that seems to make sense; nature is a thing that is always around, and as such, people will always be experiencing it in different ways. Therefore, it seems suitable that each author should have the right to express their views on nature any way they want.

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