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Barbara Kingsolver’s “Knowing Our Place” Analysis

Behind the Writing: Reading the Author’s Mind

There comes a time when a person needs to have a place where he or she belongs. When one knows that there is a safe place worth being called home, no matter how far this place might be, one starts feeling somewhat relieved. Because of the need to feel that there is solid ground under their feet, people need the place where they belong; clinging to the environment they are used to live in since the very childhood, people learn every single corner of it, feeling closely related to it despite everything: “But even so, I love to keep to our hollow” ( Kingsolver 941).

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Moreover, losing the touch with the place people used to consider their home is often painful, the author explains. Changing her environment from the dwelling in Tucson desert, where she gets increasingly close to nature, wild and untamed, to the of the homely cabin in Appalachia, the author starts changing her attitude to the wildlife in general and realizes how fragile the natural environment is, despite its seeming coarseness: “People need wild places. Whether or not we think we do, we do” (947).

The Target Audience: Who Hath the Ears to Hear…

Kingsolver wants to address all the people who do not feel they belong where they live. The author wants to emphasize that there is a certain relation between people and the places they live in. At first feeling somewhat uncomfortable, one soon realizes that a certain connection between him/her and the dwelling appears. As Kingsolver put it, “I have come to depend on these places where I live and work” (943). Sooner or later, the tangible relation to the new place appears, which finally results in the strong interconnection between a man and a new home.

Also, the author wants the dwellers of big cities to realize that urban life lacks wildness, the feeling of talking tete-a-tete with nature, which the author had when living in Appalachia. Being the part of us, the call of the wild is inescapable, which means that people have to find the time to “explore the landscape that is timeless” (947). Since wildness is a part of people, even the most inveterate city dweller has to experience what it is like to be the child of nature.

Learning to Listen: The Author’s Tone

What strikes most is the tone in which the author speaks to the audience is calm and soothing. Instead of big words and loud slogans, Kingsolver merely narrates about a snatch of her life – to be more particular, the author mixes her experience in Appalachia and the settled life at home in Tucson. Making the transitions from one stage of her life to the other smooth, Kingsolver creates an atmosphere of calmness, which contrasts with the hustle that usually accompanies the process of moving from one place to another. Hence, Kingsolver makes it clear that changing a dwelling is another enticing process of getting acquainted with the place.

It is quite peculiar that the author is extremely delicate about settling in the new place: “It would not be quite right to say I have these things. The places where I write aren’t mine” (945).

Helping the reader to understand what living in a particular place means, Kingsolver manages to find the link between a human and the dwelling. Also, the narrator emphasizes the importance of living in harmony with nature. With help of Kingsolver’s story, people will be able to understand if they belong where they live.

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