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Wallace Stegner's Wilderness Letter Essay

1218 words - 5 pages

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 advances that destroy their own spirituality and connection with the earth and a higher power or force; this is compared to Frankenstein and is said to be the humans Frankenstein. The land helped form their mentality as they worked their way across it and through it by working on their souls.

The wilderness and forests need to be saved for the future generations, and a sort of “wilderness bank” needs to be formed in order to keep the reality of the wilderness alive and keep mankind grounded to the earth.

The best way to accept nature is through an unclogged mind. The spiritual refreshment that comes from the land and the wild without the technology clouding everyone’s mind is the best way.

Stegner thinks that the wilderness has taught the generations of the past the trick of quiet, as did Sherwood Anderson. In order to teach the future generations this trick, people must leave the land as it is now and not use the land for recreational purposes.
Along with the technology that has come to be, so have a bitter attitude and more illness. People became more hostile and bitter as the technological advances took of and the frontier fell.

All of nature and the wild are equally important to Stegner; from the...

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