Rachel Carson: Pioneer of Ecology Analysis
by Kathleen V. Kudlinski

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Rachel Carson: Pioneer of Ecology Analysis

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In an afterword, Kudlinski states that Carson’s books had helped her to choose a career in science. While her admiration for Carson is obvious, she makes it clear that she thoroughly researched her topic, research that led her to examine primary materials of Carson’s life that were available at Yale University.

Kudlinski presents Carson as a brilliant woman whose diligence toward the tasks before her determined that whatever she accomplished would be done thoroughly. Her life was divided between her career and her family’s needs. Although she never married, she cared for her parents, the two nieces who were orphaned by her sister’s death, and the little boy also left orphaned when one of those nieces died an early death.

Kudlinski selects incidents in Carson’s life that were pivotal in her growth or career. Each of the chapters, which are about six pages long, is developed around such an incident. Short chapter titles announce the events that are developed in the chapters. The eight chapters are divided so that they give an overview of Carson’s career.

In each chapter, Kudlinski develops a story that indicates how a certain issue became important in Carson’s life and how Carson’s action or decision to resolve the incident set the stage for the next chapter. Historical events are also described if they affected the subject’s life or career. The Great Depression, for example, made it necessary for Carson to provide a home for her mother. Soon after, Carson’s sister Marian died, and Carson and her mother had to provide a home for Marian’s daugh-ters, Marjie and Ginny. Money was scarce. Carson provided a larger house that could serve as an adequate home for the family, and she shared visits to the woods and other amusements with her nieces. In order to obtain money to support the family, Carson began to sell articles to local newspapers. Her earlier article that had served as the introduction to the pamphlet on fish was sold to Atlantic Monthly as one of these money-raising efforts; its popularity in that magazine helped Carson to decide that she should write a book. Thus, the author includes only those incidents which were important in the development of Carson’s career, or which had a significant impact on her life.

Carson’s life covers a time of momentous events, and Kudlinski takes care to show how these events affected Carson’s life and how her life affected the events. For example, it was unusual for a woman to be a scientist in the 1920’s; Kudlinski details how Carson considered this fact when she chose her career. In addition, scientific discoveries brought about by the needs of World War II changed the relationship of humans and their environment; Carson reacted to this change by showing readers of The Sea Around Us (1951) how humanity must use its new discoveries with care.

Throughout the book, Kudlinski quotes Carson whenever a short statement from the subject is available to express her view of the issues that she faced or her feelings about her life and family. The views of others, friend or foe, are given only in summary form. In a sense, the author has chosen to let her subject speak for herself and to create a context in which Carson’s views lead the young reader through her life. The result is a study in which Carson emerges as a woman whose childhood interests in nature and writing became the stuff of her life. Her attitude was reinforced by education and experience, and Kudlinski presents Carson’s life as a consistent application of her values.