State of Wonder Chapters 6-7 Summary & Analysis

Ann Patchett

State of Wonder

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State of Wonder Chapters 6-7 Summary & Analysis

Part 3: The Trip up the Amazon River and Arrival at the Station

Chapter 6

The river is initially crowded with commercial and tourist boat traffic, but as Easter guides them into smaller tributaries, carrying them deeper into the jungle, their isolation increases. As they make their way to the station, Marina discovers that Easter is in fact not a member of the Lakashi tribe, but is actually from a neighboring tribe called the Hummocca. Dr. Swenson adopted him after his tribe abandoned him.

During the long boat ride, they discuss subjects that will prove to be important in the subsequent chapters. Dr. Swenson recalls her first visit to the Amazon as a researcher in Dr. Rapp’s party. She had made the mistake of treating a girl who had been accidentally struck in the head with a machete. After helping her, all the sick people in the region were carried to Dr. Swenson for care, a pattern that disrupted and interfered with the progress of her work and research.

Marina recoils at the notion that Dr. Swenson should have left the injured girl to bleed to death, insisting that a doctor’s duty is to provide mercy and care to the sick. While Dr. Swenson once held the same view, she has been hardened by her experiences and now believes what Dr. Rapp, her late mentor, taught her: that the intervention and interaction between the scientists and the natives should be minimal. Continuing on the topic of Dr. Rapp, a man Dr. Swenson deeply admired, she reveals that she has been visiting the Lakashi for fifty years, and was part of the Dr. Rapp’s very first Amazon expedition back in 1960. Not only has she been carrying out her research for all those decades, Dr. Swenson also confirms Marina’s suspicion that she was conducting these research expeditions even while teaching a full course load at Hopkins.

Marina marvels at Easter’s uncanny ability to know “exactly where to go”(170), navigating the boat in spite of there being no distinguishing markers that she can see in the uniformly dense jungle vegetation that surrounds the river on both…

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