Analysis of Down the River by Edward Abbey Essay

In this colorful and passionate essay, “Down the River”, Edward Abbey depicts nature as a mysterious and majestic place in order to encourage his open-minded readers to embrace all that it has to offer. He also expresses how both nature and our everyday lives are very similar in that they are mysterious and only understandable in small fractions. His tone of admiration leads the reader to recognize that we as humans tend to not see the reflection of mankind in nature; therefore we stunt our ability to fully appreciate and experience its mystery and beauty.

His use of parallel structure and imagery provide the reader with a multitude of reasons to appreciate and adore nature.

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Abbey uses romanticism to show how very important all the little aspects of nature are. He notices small details that ordinary people wouldn’t recognize or appreciate, such as “the little heart-shaped tracks of the former apparent in the sand”. This suggests that he has a close and intimate connection with nature.

For example, when he has his first encounter with a mountain lion, he describes it as a “mutual curiosity”, that they felt more wonder than fear and in that moment he shares a bond with nature and shows us that we as humans can relate to nature in more than one way.

He then rejects the quote by Fuller by saying that the world is “comprehensible only in part”, as he is observing only Aravaipa Canyon, and it is “infinitely rich in detail.” The beauty and mystery of nature and of life is what makes it interesting and since they are both so intact with each other, it makes it easier to become connected to nature and be feel the romanticism that he described in the beginning of the essay.

In his essay, he shows the reflections of mankind in nature and praises the beauties and wonders of nature and expresses that our world is too magnificent to comprehend. He is mesmerized by all of nature’s unknowns and how we can be so closely related to something and at the same time not understand anything about it.

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