Character Development in Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang

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Character Development in Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang

Search and Rescue, Utah State Police, and Bishops of the Church of Latter-Day Saints chase a group of bridge destroying, billboard burning, bulldozer mutilating eco-terrorists through the desert of the Southwest. The group known as the Monkey Wrench Gang consists of four very different characters: Seldom Seen Smith, also known as Joseph Smith, George Washington Hayduke, Doctor A. K. Sarvis, and Bonnie Abbzug. Each character has his own opinion of why nature needs to be saved. The group decides to make their mark on nature by "taking care" of the different machines, roads and bridges that are destroying it. With all the destruction the gang is causing, being caught is expected. However, the gang narrowly escapes the law numerous times. After finally giving in to the pressures of being good citizens and serving time in jail for destroying public property, the gang reunites for their final destructive mission: Glen Canyon Dam. Edward Abbey, author of The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975), uses language, appearances, actions and opinions to make each character likable to the conservative reader.

Abbey uses his strong feelings about the beauty of the Southwest to shape the opinions of each of his characters. Doc Sarvis, a medical surgeon from Albuquerque, has no strong or lasting relationships. "His few close friends were always sent away, returning rarely, the bonds of affection no stronger than the web of correspondence" (12-13). Doc?s closest friend, and coworker, is Ms. Bonnie Abbzug. Doc and Bonnie spend most of their downtime destroying billboards with economic meanings, because "Somebody has to do it" (43). Such billboards worthy of destruction read "Marine Corps bu...

... middle of paper ... nurse on the right buttock and shambled on shaky hind legs out the side door up the alleyway . . . into the padded darkness of the nearest bar" (213). With Smith being the logical member of the gang, "he listens with the concentrated intensity of a buck in hunting season" (337). When he finally hears something, "he stops. Suddenly. Doc, Bonnie and Hayduke stumble into his rear like the Three Stooges, three clowns in a silent movie" (336).

While reading The Monkey Wrench Gang, many images appear in one?s mind. The uses of Edward Abbey?s skill of developing characters through language, appearance, actions and opinions make this novel more enjoyable to read. The shaping of each character persuades the reader to believe that, "Oh my desert, yours is the only death I cannot bear."

Work Cited

Abbey, Edward. The Monkey Wrench Gang. 1975. New York: Avon Books.

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