In evaluating Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang, it is clear that it comes close to reaching a place of Abbey’s most steadfast convictions: a romantically idealized world in which the Industrial Revolution has been aborted, and society that strives for a steady-state equilibrium where man and the land can exist in harmony. The novel is effective in persuading others to do whatever it take to protect what is most vital to our existence, wilderness. Abbey pleads for others to realize that if they do not fight for their wilderness now, a world of machines will devour all the untamed, beautiful places and steal the souls of humans in the process.
Abbey uses The Monkey Wrench Gang as an outlet to express his anger towards the industrialization of the American Southwest. To Abbey, who one of the last people to float through Glen Canyon before it dammed, the $400 million “pork barrel” (123, Bishop) reclamation project was the moral equivalent of filling “St. Patrick’s Cathedral with nuclear waste.” (123, Bishop) Abbey uses the characters of Hayduke, Bonnie, Seldom and Doc as metaphors for how he wishes the people of the world would act.
Characterized by a strong devotion to the protection of the natural world, the main characters of the novel all share emotions of anger and passion with Abbey. Like Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang is realizes their freedom is directly tied to the survival of wilderness. They realize that, “We can have wilderness without freedom. We can have wilderness without human life at all; but we cannot have freedom without wilderness.” (xvi, Abbey)
The Monkey Wrench Gang’s wilderness is threatened by standards set by the U.S. government. If effort to supp...
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...ves for a steady-state equilibrium where man and the land can exist in harmony. Abbey pleads for others to realize that if they do not fight for their wilderness now, mad machines will devour all the untamed, beautiful places and steal the souls of humans in the process.
As intended, Abbey’s words ignite passion in those who listen.
Abbey, Edward. The Monkey Wrench Gang. 1975. New York: Harper Collins, 2000. Print.
Berry, Wendell. Home Economics. Berkeley: Counter Point, 1987. Print.
Bishop, James, Jr. Epitaph for a Desert Anarchist: The Life and Legacy of Edward Abbey. New York: Atheneum, 1994. Print.
Morrison, Patt. “Terrorists or Saviors?” LA Times 16 June 1991: n. pag. LA Times. Web. 18 May 2011.
Thorne, Greg. “About Earth First!” Earth First! N.p., 18 May 2011. Web. 18 May 2011.
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