Instead of a Home on Fire…

After our class discussed the problems with Rebecca Solnit’s metaphor choice, Professor McDaniel summed up the issues by stating:

1. It’s not just the reader’s home, it’s everyone’s home (Earth),

2. We can’t exit our home like her friend exited the World Trade Center, and

3. It’s partially your fault that the home is on fire.

When we broke into small groups to discuss alternative metaphors for supporting Solnit’s argument about climate change, my group focused on the third point. The audience needs to understand that their role is not a passive one; the fire didn’t just start on its own. In order to convey this crucial element of the world’s dependency on oil companies, my group created a metaphor of an abusive relationship. Humans played the role of the abusive partner, while the Earth was the victim. We qualified this metaphor by saying the relationship can be saved if the abuser realizes the grave consequences of his actions. In order to avoid having a problem similar to the second point about the home on fire metaphor, we also described this relationship as being one you could not get out of. Our relationship with the Earth would not be a romantic one, but more of a sibling sort of connection.

The reader plays a more active role in this metaphor, and is assigned guilt for his / her actions. Our lifestyles result in this dependency on oil companies; we are directly contributing to the deterioration of the Earth. At this point, many of us are unaware of how abusive we are to our planet. By dispelling this ignorance, we can turn an abusive relationship into a positive one, and curb our hurtful actions.

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