Study Guide

Serena Man and the Natural World

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Man and the Natural World

There are those in Serena who think about the world as the benevolent Mother Nature that we often see in Earth Day posters. These are the people who support the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Then there are those (ahem, Serena and Pemberton) who couldn't care less about nature if it doesn't line their pockets. All the Pembertons seem to want to do with nature is chop it down, package it, and gain a profit. Regardless of whether you're a crunchy granola type or an office mate who wants to buy packaged paper reams at a time, there's a character to align yourself with in this book.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Pemberton claims that it's a choice between a pretty view or jobs. Do you think he's correct? Which do you think is more important? Does your answer change when considering the novel is set in the Great Depression (a time when jobs were needed all over the country)?
  2. How are industrialism (oil development) and greed related to nature in the novel? Are Serena and Pemberton somehow considered "evil" for wanting to cut and sell timber?
  3. Are the defenders of the park portrayed as good? Why or why not? Give evidence from the book to support your claim.

Chew on This

Nature is only important to the Pembertons as a means to an end. Sure the trees are pretty, but they would rather get rich off of them.

The park might end timber jobs sooner, but they're short lived anyway so the park doesn't truly come at the workers' expense.

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