Analysis of “The Great American Desert” by Edward Abbey



Several pieces that we’ve read so far are “loco-descriptive” texts, poems, essays, or short stories that depict a specific (natural) place as well as trace the author’s or speaker’s responses to that locale. Choose one work and examine how author, speaker, or character views, interacts with, and (artistically) commemorates a particular landscape or region. How does the locale seem to influence him or her? What details does he or she note? How does genre help shape the way the writer portrays the scene(s) at hand? Please include lots of embedded quotes. Please base essay based on my already written introduction and thesis. The thesis begins with “Abbey interacts with the desert…” till the end of the paragraph.

In his essay “The Great American Desert,” conservatist and desert-lover Edward Abbey warns readers about the perilous nature of the desert, while simultaneously creating curiosity about what we have deemed a wasteland. The piece is proof of the selfish love that Abbey has for the desert. However, it is an odd love for it is toward an awful place—a place filled with “Gila monsters, deadly poisonous coral snakes, and giant hairy desert scorpions” (4). He not only values the silence and the tranquility of the desert but even the dangers, inconveniences, discomfort and emptiness that accompanies these vast lands. Abbey interacts with the desert as a possessive lover, playing a role as the guardian to the “formidable wasteland” (6). His covetous nature is predominately seen in the beginning of his piece as he bombards us with excessive revolting characteristics of the desert to dissuade us from ever visiting. However, his great love impedes his continued slandering of his desert, as seen in the second half of his piece. It is then that Abbey begins to explicitly express his genuine heartbroken emotions. He realizes that he cannot afford to dissuade us and welcomes “an army of lug-soled hiker’s boots” (5). 

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