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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

12. Migrant

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Activities: Author Activities

Robinson Jeffers - Teaching Tips

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  • As The Norton Anthology of American Literature states, Jeffers "berated rather than celebrated American democracy, expressing his rage at the careless destruction of irrecoverable natural beauty." This stance aligns him with the modern environmental movement, but Jeffers's philosophy was controversial in his day. In "Hurt Hawks," he writes, "I'd sooner, except the penalties, kill a man than a hawk." Use this line as a basis for a class discussion on how far people should go to protect the environment. Remind them of some of the tactics of radical environmental groups, like Earth First, who have "spiked" trees to prevent them from being cut and harvested (a spiked tree has a steel rod placed in its trunk, making it dangerous for loggers to cut the tree with a chainsaw).

  • Have students research and discuss books that were influential in the environmental movement of the last fifty years. Guide them toward Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, Paul Ehrlich's Population Bomb, Aldo Leopold's Sand County Almanac, Daniel Quinn's Ishmael, and Joel Cohen's How Many People Can the Earth Support? Have them discuss the themes important in the environmental movement; then tie these themes back to Jeffers.

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