The landscape passed by in a blur of green and blue. As my thoughts wandered, cows grazed in fields and gas burned in our engine. The serenity of nature beguiled those silent car rides. My window represented a view into a world unknown which I could fascinate over and create. Yet today, the bliss of counting the mile markers vanishes as screens capture our attention. Reality fades into the virtual and takes part of our society with it. In his essay Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv argues that separation between people and nature robs us of contemplation and creativity through his use of figurative language, rhetorical questioning, and juxtapositional diction.
Louv paints a familiar picture for most adults: the image of starring out our car window. Louv does this through metaphor; he compares our windows to a “drive by movie”. Through anaphora- which enhances storytelling rhythm to lead readers along-, Louv images “farmhouses” and “woods” and “fields” and “all that was available to the eye”. This vivid imagery supports Louv’s inductive logical argument: real nature cannot be substituted by virtual nature. Applying this to a specific example with his friend, Louv demonstrates the commonplace lack of interest in nature. Louv’s figurative language enhances his storytelling evidence. Louv personifies the rain as it “dances” on the horizon. Placing the reader into a position of “reverence” for nature allows Louv to create a sense of regret in readers. We are losing our awe of nature and Louv reminds us of our loses and the consequences. Nature allows us to “dream of our future” yet instead, the future Louv views contains nature that is exploited for advertising. Louv creates vivid imagery through figurative language to convince the reader that nature and its beauty cannot be a bliss of the past.
Louv demonstrates the fundamental crux of his position by employing rhetorical questions. In this “multimedia” world, Louv debates whether the “physical world is worth watching”. While Louv certainly thinks so, he asks his readers. Allowing the reader to think critically about the problem with the under appreciation of nature in modern society helps them comprehend the whole argument. Readers imprint their own beliefs and experiences onto the evidence of the essay strengthening Louv’s persuasion. In Louv’s other rhetorical question, he presents a paradox: “why do Americans want their children to watch less television” but continue to “expand their opportunity” to consume it? The previous paragraph offers the answers of “price”, “peace” and quiet, and technological advancement. Through this question, Louv reveals his real fears for our society. We will let creativity and contemplation die (along with natural appreciation) for easy, hand-to-mouth stimulation.
Most poignantly, Louv presents juxtaposing diction throughout the piece. Louv uses punitive diction when representing the materialistic world by describing a 50th birthday as “half a century of survival”. We survive in this world not live in it. Instead of this, Louv calls it a multimedia entertainment product”. This framed diction juxtaposes the imagery presented when nature is described. “Sales are brisk” compared with the “dancing rain” demonstrates how Louv switches his diction to influence the tone of his piece. He wields this tone to further his fear in the separation between nature and people. This “brave new” median for advertising, that upholds virtual nature over “real nature”, makes an allusion to the book Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. This specific diction draws a similarity between Huxley’s dystopian materialistic world and our own. Nature and individuality are not valued. Louv believes our current path will lead us down a similar road where contemplation, imagination, and creativity disappear. This belief that creativity extends from natural wonder is developed by Louv’s specific active diction in his closing paragraph verbs such as “fascinate”, “dream”, and consider” which all help readers realize this connection. Louv presents the paradox of “useful boredom” of staring out the window. We may be bored but we learn and imagine. Louv’s use of paradox and contradictory diction helps enlighten readers to the varying tone of the piece and its deeper message (i.e. nature plays a critical role in society).
Louv resents the lack of appreciation nature hols in our modern society. He believes nature fosters contemplation and creativity. Virtual worlds can never fascinate us like the real world. Louv fears the encroachment of a “brave new” materialistic world. By asking rhetorical questions, using figurative language to enhance storytelling, and by presenting conflicting diction, Louv persuades his readers to not lose the love for nature. The natural world is as irreplaceable as it is important. I could not imagine myself without having experienced the joy of staring out my car window wondering how the world worked.