Janet Gavin
Lake Forest, CA

JMGavin@aol.com

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The Mother Earth Archetype
in Nature Writing

 
 
by Janet Gavin
 
 

Read FULL TEXT of article
in PDF form or ABSTRACT below:

         
                   
 
   
The Mother Earth Archetype in Nature Writing
 
   
          While examining accounts of some of the most celebrated modern-American nature writers, I noticed how they and others consistently find sanctuary in the wilderness and draw a sense of peace and security and courage and strength from an intimate attachment to the natural world. At the same time, I found their writing so rich in mother images and mother-child themes that I wanted to determine what significance could be found in this passionate identification of the human "child" with Mother Earth. My conclusion is as follows:  

ABSTRACT:

        Environmentalists have argued, with eloquence and courage, that the land and seas and wildlife must be protected and that the wholesale destruction of the wilderness must end. They can't persuade us more effectively that our physical survival depends on a healthy environment, that if we continue to strip our forests and arable lands, to pollute our air and oceans and water supplies, and to destroy the wildlife, we will indeed perish. But what this examination of wilderness experiences shows is that nature is just as important to our emotional survival, and that our spiritual connection to the earth is profound, innate, and unbreakable. We don't really fly to the wilderness, as some say, in hopes of "getting away from it all," but in search of intimacy. We are drawn to nature not, as many believe, merely for a love of its superficial beauty but because we have with it a deep and everlasting bond. And if we fail to recognize and cherish and preserve that bond, we not only sentence ourselves and our descendants to an eternity of spiritual poverty, we commit, in the deepest and most horrifying sense of the word, matricide.

Janet Gavin

 

Works Cited

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Dillard, Annie. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. 1974. New York: Bantam-Harper, 1975

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           29 Aug. 1986, Orange County ed., sec. V: 1+.

Edel , Leon. Stuff of Sleep and Dreams. New York: Avon, 1982.

Eiseley, Loren. The Immense Journey. 1946. New York: Vintage-Random, 1957.

Graves, John. Goodbye to a River. Austin: Texas Monthly, 1959.

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. 1940. Boston : Little; New York : Mentor-NAL, 1969

Jung, Carl Gustav. The Portable Jung. 1971. New York: Penguin-Viking, 1981.

Koehn, Hank E. "My Passage Through AIDS." Los Angeles Times 14 Aug. 1987, Orange
           County ed., sec. V: 1+.

Krier, Beth Ann. "The Quest for Self-Esteem." Los Angeles Times 14 June 1987, Orange
           County ed., sec. VI: 1+.

Krutch, Joseph Wood. The Voice of the Desert. New York: Morrow Quill, 1954.

Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac. 1949. N.p.: Oxford; New York: Ballantine-Random, 1966.

Matthiessen, Peter. The Snow Leopard. 1978. New York: Viking; New York: Bantam
           Windstone, 1981.

Teale, Edwin Way. Autumn Across America. 1950. Edwin Way Teale; New York: Dodd, 1981.

Thoreau, Henry David. Walden and Other Writings. Ed. Joseph Wood Krutch. New York:
           Bantam, 1962.

Viorst, Judith. Necessary Losses. 1986. New York: Ballantine-Random; New York:
           Fawcett-Ballantine, 1987.

 


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