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Abstract

An Environmentalist view of Kentucky and its Natural “Suitors” by Literary Analysis

Abstract

In the book “Divine Right’s Trip”, by Gurney Norman, the author provides a more modern, psychedelic-age epic, where the traditional theme of homecoming, often witnessed in Greek epics like the Odyssey, makes a connection with environmentalism. One reason for the unique combination of these themes is the effect created by a specific appeal for environmental support accompanied with the return of the main character, Divine Right (D.R.), to his small hometown in Eastern Kentucky where coal mining remains the prevalent employer. Upon his homecoming to Kentucky, D.R constructs a greater bond with the environment around him. Yet, rather than a return with conquest and victory- such as when Odysseus slew his wife’s suitors and reclaimed his kingdom –D.R. finds polluted rivers and strip-mined mountains resulting from the mining companies; which by their relationship with the people and the land, may be considered to be the suitors of Kentucky’s environment. Unlike Odysseus, D.R. cannot purge these suitors from his homeland, because they are also responsible for the economic sustenance of the people. In spite of a suffering environment, there often still exists a deep-rooted connection between these communities, their people, and nature, as exhibited by Divine Right. The urge for conservation, which may result from such a connection, is a sentiment felt among many of Kentucky’s residents who have lived with and experienced the ecological prowess of our state, and now continue to witness its deterioration alongside the economic destruction of their hometowns. Despite these sentiments, which are similar to those expressed by Gurney Norman in “Divine Rights Trip”, the force that continues to decimate these regions of the state remains persistent because of its relationship with the people as a “suitor” of Kentucky’s natural environment.

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