Unit 15 Text I A Fable for Tomorrow
Objectives: • 1. Characteristics of fable • 2. Environmental problems • 3. Vocabulary and structures
Pre-reading Questions Some of the problems relating to the future that people are concerned about are: 1. pollution 2. energy crisis 3. population explosion 4. terrorism 5. World War III 6. rapidly growing population of the aged
Background information—The Author Rachel Carson (1907-1964)
American scientist and writer. She is best known for her popular books about oceanography, Under the Sea Wind (1941) and The Sea Around Us (1951) and for Silent Spring (1962), which made people aware, for the first time, of the dangers of pollution by insecticides and chemical fertilizers. In other words, it fired one of the first shots in what has come to be called the environmental movement.
The Main Ideas Part 1 (lines 1-14) All life in harmony with its surroundings Part 2 (lines 15- 34) The coming of a strange blight Part 3 (lines 35-39) The stricken world silenced by people themselves Part 4 (lines 40-44) Warning against a grim spectre / a stark reality
Why is this passage called a fable? A fable is usually a fictitious story meant to teach a moral. The writer uses a story of her own invention in an effort to warn us of the dangers of pollution. If man does not control the massive use of chemical insecticides, the imagined tragedy will become a stark reality. This is why this passage is called a fable.
A brief summary of the use of lie 1) The town lay in the midst of a checkerboard of prosperous farms… lay --- was situated More examples: The small village lies at the foot of the mountain, surrounded by rivers on three sides. The new capital of Brizil, Brasilia, lies 600 miles northwest of the old capital.
2) …and contained shady pools where trout lay. lay --- was kept and remained in a certain state More examples: The fields lay thickly covered with weeds because of Shaka’s orders for mourning. That winter was one of the worst in living memory: snow lay thick on the ground, the river was frozen solid.
3) … only silence lay over the fields and marsh. • lay --- hung, hovered • More examples: • Deep sorrow lay over the whole country at the death of the great military leader. • Total devastation lay over the Zulu nation after two months of intensive mourning over Nandi’s death.
4) I lay there in the dark, feeling the cold emotion of renunciation. (Unit 13) • lay --- was in a flat, resting position • More examples: • Peter has been lying on the lawn for nearly one hour, enjoying the warm sunshine. • After the death of her son, she became deranged. Finally she was found lying dead in the gutter.
5) For the next three months the whole countryside lay in a grip of iron. (Unit 12) • lay --- was • More examples: • The bank manager reassured the marketing manager of the firm by saying that he would do everything that lay in his power to help. • Rachel Carson regards it her duty to do everything that lies in her power to warn people of the danger of the irrational use of chemical fertilizers. • The cause of Benny Paret’s death lies in the prevailing mores that regard prizefighting as a perfectly proper enterprise and vehicle of entertainment.
countless birds came to feed on the berries and on the seed heads … numberless birds came to eat the berries and the seed heads … feed on --- take as food. Examples: Spiders feed chiefly on insects just as cattle feed chiefly on grass. Lions, tigers, and wolves are beasts of prey because they feed on other animals.
So it had been from the days many years ago when the first settlers raised their houses, sank their wells… • raised --- built • The Monument to the People’s Heroes in Beijing was raised in commemoration of those who died a heroic death for the Chinese revolution. • Have you ever been to some of the beautiful castles in Scotland raised in the 18th century? • The farmers complained that they were unable to raise any pigs. • raise --- breed • He was glad to be assigned to raise horses on the farm. • The village people in that area are good at raising cattle.
What made the first settlers raise their houses, sink their wells and build their barns in that locality? • It was a place of beauty throughout the year. The countryside was rich in vegetation. There was an abundance and variety of bird life. The streams abounded in fish. All these attracted many anglers to visit the place. And these are some of the factors that make the early settlers make their homes there.
a strange blight crept over the area • a strange pestilence or disease came to the area slowly and quietly without people’s knowing. Creep means “move slowly and quietly”. • We crept into the room in order not to attract attention. • Old age is creeping up on her.
What are the different words that the writer uses to repeat the concept of blight in the third paragraph? • 1) evil spell • 2) mysterious maladies • 3) sickened and died • 4) a shadow of death • 5) much illness • 6) new kinds of sickness • 7) sudden and unexplained death • 8) would be stricken suddenly
… children, who would bestrickensuddenly while at play • children who would suddenly fall ill when they were playing • this stricken world --- this world that has been ruined • Stricken is an adjective meaning “seriously affected by illness, trouble, etc.” or “experiencing the effects of illness, trouble, etc.”.
Explain the sentence: On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens and scores of other bird voices there was now no sound; … • On the mornings that used to be vibrating with the singing in chorus of a great many different birds, everything was now silent.
white granular powder • white granular powder --- referring to chemical fertilizers and pesticides • What is the implied meaning of “… white granular powder still showed a few patches, …”? • Its implied meaning is that chemical fertilizers had been used excessively, so much so that even several weeks afterwards, traces could still be seen here and there.
Explain the sentence: A grim spectre has crept upon almost unnoticed, and this imagined tragedy may easily become a stark reality we all shall know. • A frightful and ghastly shadow has slowly and quietly dominated us without being noticed by us and this imaginary disaster may naturally become a harsh reality that will affect us all.
Comments on the Text • The text, which is taken from the introduction to Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring is short but forceful. The voice behind it is clear and authoritative, which suggests that the writer has thought about this subject profoundly, therefore she is able to express herself clearly and incisively.
the characteristics of this passage • 1. The content of the whole passage is organized in a pattern of comparison and contrast. • 2. The passage is unique in its presentation of the subject matter and in its writing style in the fable tradition. • 3. other techniques
1). The writer creates some vivid and colorful images by using simple and poetic words. • 2). The writer successfully repeats the concept of blight in her well-thought-out third paragraph.
Questions • 1. Which part of the globe, the north or the south, is more concerned about the problem of over-population? • 2. What is the proper way, according to the author, to stop over-population? • 3. How do you understand “But clearly if we do nothing, nature will solve the problem for us. But at what cost! (If we do nothing, people may die of starvation in large numbers. This cost is too high.)”
Discussion/Exercises • Role-play • City Transport
Life in the Year 2050 • 1. Transport and travel • Optimistic view: People might travel wings that scientists have invented • Pessimistic view: Too crowded. It might take several hours to travel from one end of the city to the other.
2. Food and drink • Optimistic view: There will be enough food and drink to provide people with adequate nourishment. • Pessimistic view: Not enough food and drink to divide among an evergrowing population.
3. Family life • Optimistic view: Happy and pleasant life in the nuclear family; father, mother and one child • Pessimistic view: Dull and boring, with the family members sittings in front of TV all day long
4. Education • Optimistic view: Higher education for everyone, TV teaching and computerized teaching in every school. • Pessimistic view: Lack of interest in schooling; too many distractions outside the school.
5. Pollution • Optimistic view: Water purified, air cleaned and noise eliminated • Pessimistic view: Water black and foul-smelling; air full of soot and dirt; noise deafening.
Assignments • Exercises on the Work Book