I couldn’t end the discussion without talking about Charlie and conservation. As I have stated before I live on Long Island – no not the Long Island that is the haven for the rich and powerful. I live near some of that and have driven passed the tall hedges on the East End that protect the privileged from the riff-raff. What is happening all over is that small homes near me and larger homes near them are being bought and renovated so that they take over the entire property – almost edge to edge. Beyond the sheer massiveness of the houses what bothers me the most is the lack of nature permitted by the new owners.
What I have witnessed it in my small corner of the world.
New owners buy the property and the first thing to go are all of the trees, then the shrubs and then the house. Perhaps I’m missing something but one of the reasons to live in suburbia is the ability to find a haven under a tree, listen to the rustle of leaves overhead, and watch in wonder as the leaves change from green to the russet shades of red in the fall.
Oh boy, am I sounding like Charlie?
Now on to the book.
Charlie, in his attempt the eschew civilization, attached himself to Jerry. He believed that he has found a compatriot in his “Thoreau like” back to nature approach. Do you think Charlie was naive or idealistic? What was Charlie hoping to find?
Later on in the “1999” section it is Helen that is watching the further gentrification of the Point. She observes the “Uh-Ohs” and the huge domesticated mansions with their overly manicured lawns and their electric lines. In her own way she resists.
“Once, she used to fertilize, divide, deadhead, mix in annuals for color. Then for a while she hired a gardener, but eventually, she let her garden go…No matter that it’s untended; the blooms impress her with their persistence, and the interlopers-Queen Ann’s lace, chicory, goldenrod, thistle-are unruly gifts.”
Has Helen finally let go? She has always love Ashaunt, but in her own way has tried to control it and everything around her. Is it her illness that has motivated the change in her, or is it something else?
I felt a great connection between Thoreau and Graver within the pages of The End of the Point. What do you think Graver was trying to convey?
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.” Walden, Henry David Thoreau