In Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”, written in 1962, the theme of the careless nature of the general American public is discussed, along with the idea that American’s are responsible to keep the environment in livable condition for various wildlife and humans. The author uses an example of pesticides to prove this point, and tells how they have affected the environment in an atrocious way. Which have lead to the death of the environments in which these poisons are used on, as well as the deaths of the wildlife that inhabit the environment in which it is used on.
The careless nature of the American people is shown throughout the passage through the use of diction and tone by the author within this passage. “There is a growing trend toward aerial applications of such deadly poisons such as parathion to “control” concentrations of birds to distasteful farmers.” The author uses punctuation and tone to show his sarcasm towards the idea that the farmers think they are “controlling” the pest problem, while they are really just killing at will. The usage of parenthesis really solidify the tone of sarcasm by the author within this quote. “The problem could have been solved easily by a slight change in the agricultural practice.” The author uses diction and tone to solidify how easily these deaths could’ve been avoided. This quote aims at the readers emotions to makes them feel as if they were exceptionally ignorant and naïve to let this happen in their backyards. Throughout the passage the author does an amazing job of making the reader feel guilty for all of these killings that occurred, and makes the reader reflect on their actions.
The author puts the responsibility of the state of the environment in 1962 on the reader through the use of rhetorical questions and emotional content. As well as rhetorical questions and emotional content the author again stresses on diction and tone to make the reader realize how serious the state of the environment is to our country. “Who kept vigilant watch to tell the innocent stroller that the fields he was about the enter were deadly – all of their vegetation coated with a lethal film?” Through the use of a rhetorical question the author makes the reader realize that they are responsible for the deadly fields, and the endless negative affects that parathion has on the environment. This quote also has an extremely morbid and gloomy tone which the author uses to make the reader feel apologetic for their negligence towards the environment. “Yet at so fearful a risk, the farmers with none to hinder them waged their needless war on the blackbirds.” Rachel Carlson writes to the reader’s emotions to make them feel guilty for not speaking out when these plans were being made in their own backyards. Since these events occurred at an earlier time the reader must cope with being responsible for this “mission of death” because they did nothing to stop it.
Parathion is just one of the examples Carson gives to prove the horrendous state of the environment in 1962, and to show the nonexistent response the general American public had on this crisis. Negligence and responsibility are the two most prominent feelings brought upon the reader in this passage, the negligence the people had to help when this occurred, and the responsibility people should have to fight against something when it is obviously incorrect. Throughout the passage the author uses emotional appeal and language to solidify these feelings, and to make the reader recognize that if something to this degree is brought upon us again we must rise to the occasion and solve the problem, not hide in the shadows all over again.