Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

In The Sea Around Us, Rachel Carson lovingly leads her readers through a clear and scientifically careful history of the sea, from the first formation of oceans on the planet to the middle of the twentieth century when the book was written. The text is divided into three main sections: “Mother Sea,” “The Restless Sea,” and “Man and the Sea About Him.”

In part 1, “Mother Sea,” provides in eight titled chapters a history and description of the life found in the sea. In “Gray Beginnings,” Carson gives a scientific history of the origin of the earth’s oceans. In “The Pattern of the Surface,” the complexity of life in the surface waters is described: “Unmarked and trackless though it may seem to us, the surface of the ocean is divided into definite zones, and the pattern of the surface water controls the distribution of its life.” The chapter entitled “The Changing Year” describes the ways in which the surface waters are affected by seasonal changes, and “The Sunless Sea” describes life in the depths of the ocean and discusses advances in deep-water oceanography. Other chapters in this section provide a history of the scientific efforts to sound the bottom of the ocean and what was learned of its topography; describe the significance of sediment; chronicle the birth and life of oceanic islands; and, in “The Shape of Ancient Seas,” assess the evidence of former seas on dry land.

Part 2 of The...

(The entire section is 596 words.)