Internal Colonialism and the Wasteland Theme in Ron Rash's Serena
AbstractRon Rash’s Serena (2008) is about the clash between northern industrialists who cut timber in southern Appalachia and conservationists who want the area converted into a national park. Set during the Depression, it also addresses our own times of unchecked greed and environmental holocaust. This article relates the situation of internal colonialism, which turns the region into a sacrifice zone, with the theme of the wasteland. The latter is related in the novel not only to T. S. Eliot’s poem but also to other works that Rash acknowledgesas influences, including Moby-Dick, The Great Gatsby and Christopher Marlowe’s tragedies about the will to power. Characterized by what Erich Fromm calls the exploitative orientation, Serena Pemberton wields hard power and embodies the rapaciousness of economy, in contrast to a local female character, who stands for ecology and soft power.
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