The Monkey Wrench Gang Analysis

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Through urbanization, modernization, and global energy demands, people abuse the natural environment for the advancement of the human race. Industries and most humans utilize the environment for their benefit only and lack the decency to show respect or concern for their surroundings. Similar to the destruction of the natural world, the actions of a society controlled by the wealthy are prone to harm the people of low socioeconomic standing. The need for a political and ethical movement to protect the natural world and end environmental oppression is evident in art and literature such as Edward Abbey's fictional novel of combating industrialization, The Monkey Wrench Gang (Macfarlane). The Monkey Wrench Gang portrays characters who are economically…show more content…
Seldom and Hayduke are victims of increased exposure to environmental hazards such as toxic waste, pollution, landfills, and coal ash ponds, segregation of ethnic minority workers into dangerous jobs, and lack of access to parks or garbage removal (“Environmental Racism”). Many impoverished neighborhoods are forced to be located next to environmental hazards. For example, Louisiana is an impecunious state with "Cancer Alley” along the Mississippi River where 125 manufacturing plants release an abundance of hazardous waste resulting in cancer rates and respiratory illnesses higher than the national average (“Poverty”). Additionally, poverty-stricken people tend not to be well-educated and are less politically powerful to fight environmental injustices. Environmental racism originates from the notion of privilege, unequal and unfair rights or advantages of one group over another, such as the dominance of the wealthy industries and development companies over the rural people in the American Southwest in The Monkey Wrench Gang (“Environmental Racism”). Hayduke justifies his radical actions, “Our cause is just...and God’s on your side. Or vice versa. We’re up against a mad machine, Seldom, which mangles mountains and devours men. Somebody has to try and stop it ” (Abbey 188). He believes God will forgive their actions because the powerful elite oppresses both the impoverished people and the Earth. Consequently, the environmental activist group Earth First! and others incorporated “monkeywrenching,” attacks on property and machinery used to destroy the natural world, based on Abbey’s novel to incite a radical environmental movement in America to end environmental racism
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