Mr. Uriah Muhammad
Ms. A. Stephens
English 104, Section M70
8 March 2002
The United States Government and Out Land
The United States government is known to give its citizens great advise with much care and concern. With this being known, many people come to the conclusion that United States citizens can faith in the government when it comes to making crucial decisions. Terry Tempest Williams is not one of these people. In The Clan of the One-Breasted Women, Williams gives her views on the government conducting nuclear tests in Utah. In contrast, in Americas Energy Plan in Action: Bearing Witness, an article Williams contributed to Orion magazine and OrionOnline, Williams speaks on issues containing actions of the government drilling for oil and natural gases. This is also conducted in Utah. Both of these articles share a common topic and tone. These two pieces both focus around major concerns for the Earth and how the government will is helping to destroy it for things like nuclear testing and drilling for oil and gases.
Most Mormons refrain from confrontation, but Williams is not the type to let issues that are of concern blow over. In The Clan of the One-Breasted Women, the urge to protest and fight back is so intense that she dreams about it. Williams feels as though the nuclear testing in Utah is the cause of the many people that is suffering from cancer. She has pretty convincing evidence. She states that no one in her family, but one, had breast cancer preceding 1960. She also goes on to state that the government tested atomic bombs from January 27, 1951 through July 11, 1962. Williams made a bold statement that convincing the public that the testing was not hazardous to humans health was just a matter of good public relations person of the government. Her tone towards the government is light. She is infuriated with the government because of this and shows it in her tone. She also has a sarcastic tone that would irritate anyone.
In this piece Williams uses very effective persuasion. She starts off by telling you about how all the females in her family suffers from breast cancer. This brings a lot of emotion out of the audience that leads to added sympathy fro the author. I know I felt sorry for her. I was on her side from the start of the piece. Her tone was very sentimental. Then she goes on to state facts. Nothing wins an argument better than sound, strong facts and Williams definitely these present in this piece.
The issue that infuriated Williams was the Irene Allen v. The United States of America case. It started off fairly pleasing but ended in ruin. She states in line thirty-two that it was the first time that the federal court determined that nuclear testing had been the cause of cancers, but this landmark ruling was not permanent. In line thirty-eight, she says, In April 1987, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Jenkinss ruling on the ground, that the United Sates was protected from the suit by the legal doctrine of sovereign immunity, a centuries-old idea from England in the days of absolute monarchs. What happens next is probably what sent Williams over the edge. Williams states tat the Supreme Court refused to review the Appeals Court decision in January 1988. Williams also shows her sarcastic tone with the quote, The King can do no wrong. (Williams 128)
Williams ends The Clan of One-Breasted Women with the telling of her dream. She dreamt that women from everywhere came together to talk, sing, and dance, somewhat like prayer rituals. There were bombs being tested two miles away from where they were gathering. They claimed that the ridges in the desert were stretch marks from these nuclear testing. In other words, they are saying that the nuclear testing was weakening the land. The women grew restless and could not take it anymore. They came to conclusion that something had to be done because their land and future children were at stake. Williams and nine other women manage to trespass onto the government property. When their presence was known the authorities were alerted. For trespassing on military grounds, military officials apprehended the ten women. Although they were not arrested, they were cuffed, searched, and dropped off in the middle of the desert with no way to get home. The group of ten did not mind this situation at all. They felt as though the land was theirs. This was home and they had a strong spiritual connection to the land. This dream says a lot about the author. For one, she is a very spiritual person. Also she wants to take action, but she sees that her action will not go anywhere and not be taken seriously. She also knows that she is not alone in her beliefs but she does feel like she should be the leader of those who also want to protest.
The Clan of One-Breasted Women is not the only piece that Terry Tempest Williams has that against some of the governments action. Americas Energy Plan in Action: Bearing Witness is another strong piece that Williams contributed to Orion magazine and OrionOnline.
This piece also presents Williams sarcastic tone. She doesnt waste time either. In the beginning of the piece she states, Access appears to be no problem. She is saying that it appears to be no problem for companies to come and drill wherever they want. This is an obvious blow towards Congress. Congress should be making it more difficult to gain access to drill and damage the land.
Williams describes the process of drilling very descriptively. They stop at the designated post, put on their brakes; lower the steel plate on the desert; clamp tight; apply some 64,000 pounds of pressure against the sand like a lethal stethoscope to cold skin, then send a jolt of seismic waves below to record density. The ground goes into a seizure. This is repeated eleven times. The steel plate lifts. The once supple red sand has turned to concrete. The brake is released and with a gearshift, the convoy moves forward until the next post appears, leaving behind a trail of shattered rock. (Bearing Witness 3) In this piece, similar to Clan of the One-Breasted Women, Williams uses words that get to the audiences emotions. When she speaks of the land she uses words that would pertain to humans. She uses words like stethoscope to cold skin and we feel the Earths pain. This is a very effective tool in her writing. She also speaks of the people working. She feels as though they dont even have a care for the earth. She says, men read newspapers as the operations proceeds, computerized and routine. (Bearing Witness 3) She is obviously stating that these men have no concern, for they are hurting and destroying the land.
Williams shows her sarcasm again when she talks about her conversation with a manager from the Bureau of Land Management. At first she claims to be relieved when he shows up. She feels as though it is his job to protect the land and make choices in the best interest of the land. He should be furious at such actions being taken on this precious land. She is sadly mistaken. Yes, he is mad, but not at the workers. He is mad at her and the rest of the “observers” because they may be an obstacle in finishing the project. Like worker, the manager doesnt have much concern either. He states, But in the end, its all a trade-off, weve chosen to just accept the project as they give it to us. (Bearing Witness 4)
Williams two pieces have much similarity in topic and style. In both pieces, she uses an emotional tone to capture the audiences attention. And once she has your attention she gives the facts. This is very effective method. Also in both pieces, she uses sarcasm. Sarcasm can be good and bad. But Williams uses sarcasm well in proving her points. On contrary, she uses so well that if you dont pay attention you will miss it. This can be ineffective if the reader does not possess a high intellectual capacity. Furthermore, the issues that William has brought to the table in these two pieces are very important and overlooked. We should not let the government just walk over us and the land we need to live. We have to question and fight for the land that is irreplaceable. We need to question government actions even if their reasoning sounds convincing.
Williams, Terry Tempest. The Clan of the One-Breasted Women. Community Matters. Ed. Marjorie ford and Elizabeth Schave. New York: Longman, 2002. 125-131.
Williams, Terry Tempest. Americas Energy Plan in Action: Bearing Witness. http://www.oriononline.org/pages/oo/sidebars/front/index_front.html