Muir’s Point of View

Muir’s interruption of wilderness is the polar opposite of Cronon’s. Muir’s belief of separation of wild and man to make one stronger is a core principle throughout the story. This core belief that bravely the wild takes you away from modern life is his most prominent mindset. His friends are now the rocks, he sleeps under the stars, he solves issues by using his resources on his own. His idea is that modern life has made him weak. Accusing the steps of the town on softening his legs and making them used to a comfy and reliable lifestyle. “That is what you get from intercourse with stupid town stairs” (Page 101). 

His studies in geology pushed him deep into the woods. Away from comfort, peace, and stability. Only then does he believe his studies are worth something. “The moon is looking down into the canon, how marvelously the great rocks kindle to her light” (Page 103), his findings also allow him the honor of a glimpse at a landscaped untouched by human contact. He notes the ice sheets on the lake, the structure of rocks beside a cliff, the foliage and plant-life surrounding the mountains he has hiked. His findings let him appreciate life as it is in the moment. 

Cronon believes that wilderness is not meant to be an escape from reality, but rather a part of it. “But the trouble with wilderness is that it quietly expresses and reproduces the very values its devotees seek to reject” (Page 81), his idea of wilderness is not the clean slate that people have raised it to be. Cronon’s obvious distrust in the term wilderness is apparent, but for many reasons. There is not much land untouched by human hands as the term describes. Muri’s idea of a natural landscape to escape from is Cronon’s bane. There isn’t a new reality waiting in the woods, there is nature and life. Cronon’s point is that as much as nature has been put on a pedestal most people don’t agree on what that means. A park or reserve could be described as nature, yet is that not also touched by man?

Muri believes in the leisure and hardship that comes with nature. Cronon advocates for a better understanding that nature is not here for human benefit. Whether that is resources, time, relaxation, or wonder. Muri uses the world beyond those trees for his own benefit, Cronon helps nature with the issues he brings up. The classification of “wilderness,” human use of the natural world, and the real reason we go out to the unknown in the first place. 

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