A Place Of Refuge Essay Definition

Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge Essay

1049 Words5 Pages

Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge

Adaptation is the source and story of a species’ survival. Human beings’ journey across and habitation of the earth’s surfaces demanded resilience to change. As a result each race is a product of the land in which they inhabited. We have grown with the land. Our physical traits tie us to a particular region, a particular place, but what of our emotions? Are they another link to our homelands or do they orphan us, forcing us to seek refuge? Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge, is the story of her adaptation to change, her struggle to weather changes. The emotional maturity of her relationship with the Great Salt Lake is a subset of her wider community’s relationship to their homeland. This emotional separation…show more content…

Williams wanted her mother to fight the cancer and encouraged her mother to try the various aggressive treatments suggested by the doctors.

Although Williams’ reactions to the unexpected changes in both her mother’s and the lake’s natural cycles are different she wanted them to return to normalcy for the same reason—for her sake. Williams wanted to preserve her childhood. Diane Tempest, Williams’ mother, is the personification of her childhood and the Great Basin is the setting upon which her fondest childhood memories were enacted. Williams respond to them differently because, as she says in the first line of the book, “the Great Salt Lake is about twenty-five minutes from our home.”(5) The lake is not only physically distant from the home in which her mother resides, but also functions emotionally as a distant relative.

The Great Basin was promised land of her ancestors. For –years, the Mormons have lived in this harsh landscape. They have grown from this land. The Mormons’ relationships to each other are inextricably tied to the relationship to the land. From bird watching and astrology with her mother and grandmother, to marriage maintenance with her husband Brooke, the majority of the familial activities Williams describes have an outdoor element. Therefore Williams must reconnect with the land before she repairs her relationships with her family. However during this turbulent period of her life, the Great Basin is not stable enough to support her.


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Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams

1308 Words6 Pages

Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams

Refuge; An Unnatural History of Family and Place, by Terry Tempest Williams, is a thought-provoking, sentimental book that explores both the unnatural and the natural events that take place in her life. The deception and lies of the reports presented by the United States government, which lead to the fall out of atomic bomb testing in Utah in the 1950's and the rise of the Great Salt Lake and its effect on bird’s serve as the backdrop of this book. As Williams struggles to deal with the ramifications of her mother’s terminal cancer, she seeks sanctuary at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. Her family and their well-being is a major priority in her life. When…show more content…

This refuge is home to thousands of bird species.
As William’s mother health deteriorated, she found solace at the bird refuge. Her intimacy with the birds has too strong of a hold over her. She becomes unrealistic about the application of the fate of the birds in relation to her reality with her mother. For example, when she returns to the refuge and finds the burrowing owl’s nests have been destroyed she gives the middle finger to a group of men and says, “This is for you- from the owls and me” (Tempest, 13). Her reaction to what happened to the birds is over exaggerated. These birds will naturally migrate to a new area. Williams is taking the situation too seriously. She tries too hard to find a connection between what is happening to the birds and the rising level of the lake and what is happening to her mother. As Williams states in an interview with David Summer, “Our body, the body of earth-theirs is not separation. That was for me, the revelation in Refuge- when I realized my mother’s health and the health of the desert were the same story” (Summer, 7). The health of the desert is a natural event that occurs in nature- lakes flood. What had happened to her terminally-ill, cancerous mother is a very unnatural event.
Williams’ mother had cancer. The likely source was from the atomic

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