Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 218
Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness is a nonfiction work by Edward Abbey (1927–1989). It tells the story of Abbey's work as a National Park Service ranger at Utah's Arches National Park in the mid-1950s.
As an autobiographical story, the central character in Desert Solitaire is the author himself, Edward Abbey. At the time Abbey wrote the book, he was in his early 30s and saw his role as one in which he was charged "to protect, preserve and defend all living things within the park boundaries, making no exceptions." This outlook informs his actions in the many vignettes and stories told in the book of his experiences in the park. Abbey takes the view that all living things are related in some way and ultimately declares, “I am not an atheist, but an earthiest.”
Aside from Abbey himself, the names of the persons whose tales intersect his have been changed; however, he notes that they were all real people.
In several of Abbey's outings, he is accompanied by Ralph Newcombe, who is described by Abbey as being quiet and with dark facial hair. Other characters featured in the story include Bob Waterman and John Wesley Powell. In the background, unnamed but ever present are the tourists and townspeople whom Abbey views with varying degrees of negativity.
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