46 pages • 1 hour readMindy Mcginnis
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Throughout the novel, McGinnis highlights the unavoidable impact humans have on nature. She uses Ashley’s observations, experiences, and flashbacks to develop this theme.
Ashley loves to be immersed in nature. She grew up spending time outdoors and learning survival skills and wilderness facts from Davey Beet. Because of her love for nature, she notices ways humans damage their environment. Observations of human presence in nature used to make Ashley angry. For instance, she hated seeing litter on trails and longed to find places to hike where no trace of other people could be found. Ashley would yell and curse at the oil company trucks that passed by her trailer on its rural road. She hated that industrialization could be felt out in the country where she lived. Through these and other examples, McGinnis points out the negative impact humans have on natural areas.
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However, Ashley’s experience in the woods offers another perspective of human presence in nature. Ashley finds herself in a section of the Smoky Mountains where few examples of human presence can be found. Animals are unafraid of Ashley, which tells her that they have never seen a human before. Furthermore, Ashley hopes to find litter, an oil well, or any sign of a person’s presence, thinking she’s bound to come across something because of the way people have “obliterated…our natural habitat” (158).
By Mindy Mcginnis