Chapter 1 "A Fable for Tomorrow" Summary
Carson describes a beautiful American town where townsfolk and farmers and wildlife all live in harmony with each other. Farms and orchards are interspersed with maple, birch, and pine trees. Foxes and deer live and romp in the misty woods. The roadsides are lush with trees, ferns, and wildflowers. Birds are numerous both in kind and in sheer quantity. In winter, migratory birds are so numerous that tourists come to see them. Trout is plentiful in the streams, which have been good fishing spots since early settler times. Then a mysterious blight strikes the area, and wildlifeand farm animals die. People become ill, puzzling the doctors. The birds disappear. There are no bees to pollinate plants and trees, so there is no fruit in the orchards. The vegetation dies. The fish die. A...
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“A Fable for Tomorrow” was intended by the author Rachel Carson to serve as a warning for the overuse of pesticides in the eco-system. Published in 1962, the town described in the essay initially epitomizes the small towns of another time when everything seemed in perfect harmony with nature. The animals survived in the natural world with the beauty of the flora surrounding them.
Describing a paradise, the birds found food in winter; the deer grazed hidden in the misty morning; the fish swam in the unsullied, clear water. This was life as God intended it to be.
Through the use of pesticides, man altered the balance of nature. Not only did the vegetation and animal life suffer, but the doctors were overwhelmed with the odd diseases that came into their offices. The herbicides and insecticides skewed the environment.
Carson’s argument portrays the lack of reproduction which the “white powder” impacts. The chicken lays eggs but do not produce chicks. The birds were either dead or migrated to another site. No fruit, bees, or other animals could sustain life.
The problems presented in the imaginary town find roots in other real locations where incidences like those in the essay have actually occurred. Carson describes the blight of the white power or pesticides as an evil spell that settled on the community. She never denotes exactly what the actual “evil spell” is in the fable. Using the metaphor of the evil spell, the author explains it is a mysterious malady that wipes out entire flocks of sheep and herds of cattle. Man has done this to himself.
No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world…A grim spectre has crept upon us almost unnoticed, and this imagined tragedy may easily become a stark reality we all shall know.
Carson’s purpose is not to deride the American public; rather, she hopes that awareness of the problem will stop the immoral use of a product that can induce such harm to man and his world.