Wallace Stegner's Wilderness Letter Essay

Wallace Stegner's Wilderness Letter Essay

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In Wallace Stegner’s “Wilderness Letter,” he is arguing that the countries wilderness and forests need to be saved. For a person to become whole, Stegner argues that the mere idea of the wild and the forests are to thank. The wilderness needs to be saved for the sake of the idea. He insinuates that anyone in America can just think of Old faithful, Mt. Rainier, or any other spectacular landform, even if they have not visited there, and brought to a calm. These thoughts he argues are what makes us as people whole.

The wilderness can be used to measure against the man made world, a “scientific yardstick.” Throughout the entire piece he is arguing that the importance is not what we can actually see or touch, but what we think of and how we think of the wild. This letter is being written to inform them of what would be missing without the wilderness. Those who think fondly of the Grand Canyon or the Everglades and have never been there are merely working from the idea, but those who have been there know what it has to offer and therefore receive the calming and sobering state of mind Stegner refers to.

He believes that the wilderness has helped form us and that if we allow industrialization to push through the people of our nation will have lost part of themselves; they will have lost the part of themselves that was formed by the wilderness “idea.” Once the forests are destroyed they will have nothing to look back at or to remind them of where they came from or what was, and he argues everyone need to preserve all of what we have now.

In Stegner’s perception, humans are the only wild species left. Humans are the only ones who have survived genetically unchanged. They are the ones who create the technological advan...


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...rt of life as it once was and the acres of land to run on are few and far between, but losing that hasn’t made people bitter. Humans make themselves bitter when they fill their days and the days of their children with activity after activity and don’t stop and take time for each other.

The entire letter was written on the premise that nature should be saved for the sake of the thought, not for what it could tactilely do for people. If you are going to have a clear-cut, concise idea about what nature is, enough of one for it to be a sobering idea, you would have to be out there in it at some point. You may have a thought but you don’t know and therefore it isn’t what is holding you together as a whole. The letter has some genuine concerns for the wildlife and forests and the wilderness itself, but it is just that, a letter voicing Wallace Stegner’s concerns.

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