By Jay Parini
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However, at the time, science writing for general audiences was not widely practiced, and Carson agonized over her decision to change her major to biology. Looking back on her choice, in an address delivered in 1954 ("The Real World around Us," included in the 1998 collection Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson, edited by Linda Lear), Carson wrote, "I had given up writing forever, I thought. " Carson graduated from the Pennsylvania College for Women magna cum laude in 1929. " At periods during her graduate study, Carson worked at the Marine Biological Laboratory, in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, which furthered her interest in the ocean and provided rich source material for her later books about the sea.
On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens, and scores of other bird voices there was now no sound; only silence lay over the fields and woods and marsh. . In the gutters under the eaves and between the shingles of the roofs, a white granular powder still showed a few patches; some weeks before it had fallen like snow upon the roofs and the lawns, the fields and streams. Carson brings the stark recognition of risk directly into the lives of average Americans, RACHEL CARSON / 33 and she makes apparent the threat to that most cherished American symbol, the home.
Carson does not answer her rhetorical questions because there are no answers, only a continuity of questions—the questions are open-ended and intended to contribute to ongoing experience. The meaning inherent in these creatures is the unreachable meaning of life, and each creature contributes to the integrity of life in an interrelational, ecological community. Meaning is in relationships. Many passages in The Edge of the Sea are perceptions of these centrally important connections and relationships.
American Writers, Supplement IX by Jay Parini