Rhetorical Reading Essay(Revision)
Since they started pouring the concrete for the dam Lake Powell has been a center of controversy. From nature preservationists to ancient ruins advocates the subject has been heated and intense. On the other hand, those who support Lake Powell are just as avid and active in their defense of the reservoir. One of the former, Edward Abbey, sets forth his plea, hoping it does not fall upon deaf ears.
Abbey attempts in his article to help the reader visualize Glen Canyon before it was dammed up. He uses a lot of pathos to help the reader “feel” the beauty of the previous Glen Canyon and the ugliness of the present. His article seems to be written not to the supporters of Lake Powell, but to those who side with Abbey, perhaps in an attempt to strengthen their resolve to do something about their beliefs. Abbey advocates the draining and naturalizing of the reservoir, allowing it to regress back to its natural state. Although the author is very talented at using connotations and figurative language, he focuses too much on pathos and a 20th century view of nature and lacks sufficient logos and ethos.
This essay while very passionate is poorly done. The author, Edward Abbey, admits that he is a “butterfly chaser, googly eyed bleeding heart and wild conservative”(Abbey, 144). His constant appeals to nostalgia and tree hugging are repetitive and long-winded. However, as mentioned above, he is an expert in figurative language and connotation. Right from the beginning Abbey uses a great metaphor comparing Glen Canyon to the living heart of the canyon lands, and throws in another about the Colorado River being golden. He tries to form a beautiful picture of what Glen Canyon used to be like by sharing an experience that he and a buddy had almost 50 years ago. Although picturesque and ideal, we all understand that change is a natural part of both mankind and nature and that all things have an end.
Later in the article Abbey uses more great connotations and points out that the reservoir has had negative effects on the environment in that area. “…Debris brought down into them by desert storms, no longer carried away by the river, must unavoidably build up in the area where flood meets reservoir”(147). And later, “Anyone who has tried to pilot a motorboat through a raft...
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...birds, 800 different mammals and more that a dozen reptile species (Lake Powell). And anyone who has been there will ask, if there is a slight lack of insects, which I am not sure there is, how is that a bad thing? This hardly seems the sterile, lifeless scene that Abbey paints for us and is simply one of the many examples of omission he uses.
I feel that although Abbey means well in trying to preserve the natural form and environment of Glen Canyons, he is unable to see that many, many more people are out enjoying the beauties of Lake Powell than ever graced the shores of the Colorado River in that area. This is what people want. Abbey poorly surmises that the majority of people agree with his viewpoints, “I am not alone, for I belong to that ever-growing number of Americans, probably a good majority now, who have become aware that a fully industrialized, thoroughly urbanized, elegantly computerized social system is not suitable for human habitation”(Abbey, 144). If that were so Lake Powell would have been drained and dry decades ago. The truth is that with few exceptions, people like Lake Powell just the way it is.
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