In The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan, in chapter 3, what narrative or writing techniques does he use?

Expert Answers
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter 3, entitled "Intoxication," takes as its focus the plant of marijuana, and in particular, the way that this has become such an important plant to humans over time. What is interesting about this chapter compared to the rest of his narrative is that this is a very long section, and is in fact the longest chapter. In addition, the account features numerous topics that, at least initially, seem to be rather jumbled together, unclear and imprecise. In fact, given the topic of this chapter, it appears that the narrative tries to replicate the rather confused state of mind that marijuana intoxication causes in humans. This is something that is evidenced through an examination of the diction that Pollan uses in this chapter as opposed to elsewhere in the book. As opposed to the scientific approach he takes elsewhere, words such as "magic," "mad," and "shamanistic" are words that abound and allow the author to link marijuana to various methods of expression in culture. Above all else, what Pollan sets out to do in this chapter is to demonstrate the link between humans and substances that are, in effect, toxic:

The bright line between food and poison might hold, but not the one between poison and desire.

In other words, this chapter, through deliberately replicating the confusion caused by marijuana to humans, seeks to explore the attraction that humans feel for substances that are toxic and how we desire them, even though we know they are potentially bad for us.  

Read the study guide:
The Botany of Desire

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question
Additional Links