Leiningen Versus the Ants by Carl Stephenson

Start Your Free Trial

In "Leiningen Versus the Ants" by Carl Stephenson, is Leiningen's motto true and how do you explain if it is?

Expert Answers info

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write4,539 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

In "Leiningen Versus the Ants" by Carl Stephenson, the protagonist, Leiningen, is the owner of a very successful plantation in the jungles of Brazil. He has had success in many areas of his life simply because he refused to fail. 

One day he is warned that a plague of ants, a powerful "act of God," is on its way and he should leave immediately. Leiningen, however, has not yet experienced the ants and is unmoved. He refuses to heed the warnings and leave his home because, he says,

"I use my intelligence.... With me, the brain isn't a second blindgut; I know what it's there for. When I began this model farm and plantation three years ago, I took into account all that could conceivably happen to it. And now I'm ready for anything and everything--including your ants."

He obviously believes two things: everyone is overreacting to a bunch of ants and his plantation will be impervious to the creatures because he has outsmarted them. Leiningen's motto is "the human brain needs only to become fully aware of its powers to conquer even the elements," and he is willing to risk his life as well as the lives of his workers on that motto being true. 

In fairness to Leiningen, he has battled and defeated many other kinds of natural plagues and elements. His belief in his own ability to defeat this plague of ants is so strong that even his native workers--deathly afraid of the ants they have seen before--decide to stay with him rather than evacuate.

The ants were indeed mighty, but not so mighty as the boss. Let them come!

His motto is tested by the ants. They are as formidable a foe as he has ever encountered, and he has to battle them with all of his wits and cunning as well as all of his strength. All of his well...

(The entire section contains 613 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial