Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 337
In A Friend of the Earth, T.C. Boyle explores environmental awareness through a man who goes to extremes to save the Earth but ultimately fails to make an impact in a major way. He lacks control, though he seeks to find it in his actions. Ultimately, though, there is nothing he can do to maintain that control.
Tyrone, the protagonist, is unable to save his wife when she is stung by a bee while they are camping. This is the moment that changes the rest of his life. Though he is a single father for awhile, he meets Andrea and through her gets involved with Earth First!, a radical environmental group. This leads to him losing custody of his daughter when he involves her in a dangerous protest.
Tyrone is unable to work with Earth First! when he is in jail. He also cannot maintain his parole, because he acts out by continuing to commit vandalism in the name of environmental activism. This gets him sent back to jail where he is unable to do anything as either a parent or an activist.
Tyrone is unable to keep his daughter safe. While he is in jail, she is raised by Andrea. When he is free, Sierra chooses to live in a redwood tree. She ultimately dies when she falls out of it. His work with environmentalists led to her becoming one and ultimately is what caused her to be in the redwood where she died.
Tyrone is unable to save the earth, no matter what he and Andrea try to do to save it. At the opening of the novel, Ty is working as a caretaker for several endangered species. The lions he cares for end up breaking out and killing the people around him. By the end of the novel, he lives with Andrea again. They are not activists. Instead, they take care of what is likely the last Patagonian fox in the world and pretend to those around them that it is a dog.
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