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American City Elgin Review →

When the Killing's Done

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When the Killing’s Done is a captivating book written by T.C. Boyle. The book revolves around the theme of environmental conflict between plants and invading animals in the Channel Islands located along the coast of Santa Barbara. The island, having been intruded by destructive species of rats and feral pigs, is endangered of its native plant and animal population, thus, facing the need to conserve the native inhabitants. However, the program of environmental conservation in the island undertaken by Alma Boyd Takesue who is a National Park Service biologist is not welcomed by all. She faces strong opposition from her opponent Dave LaJoy, a businessman and an animal right activist and his lover Anise Reed who are not pleased with her idea. They are determined not to allow any human interference but rather are of the opinion of the natural balance of the ecosystem. This paper is based on comparison and contrast of Alma’s and LaJoy’s perceptions and moral fiber in their response to the ecological subject in question.

Alma as a professional is driven with the urge to rescue the threatened species of dwarf fox in the island at the expense of the invading golden eagles. She is pictured as a self-tormenting lady and driven to an unknown destination in the book. Having killed the bald eagle in the island, she then resorts to reintroduce them while getting rid of the golden eagle population in the island. Alma’s unsympathetic character is evident in the book as she strives to achieve her goal. Though she is intelligent, her move to conserve the native animals and plants in the island is not calculative at all.

On the other hand, her opponent, Dave LaJoy is pictured as a man driven by rage and who has little respect for human at the expense of fighting for animal rights. His uncontrolled anger results into harm even for the birds which he intends to preserve. Dave, who has little regards for human intervention, has built his view on the natural balance of the ecosystem as he depicts the move by Alma to be more disastrous than helpful.

Alma is in charge of the national park and his aim to protect the endangered species of dwarf foxes by eradicating feral pigs and native birds by eliminating rats. These predators (feral pigs and rats) were introduced by human in Santa Cruz Island.  Her nemesis Lajoy is one of the strongest advocates of animal’s right. Both Alma and Lajoy seem to seek for dominion over nature. However, both of them fail to allude to this obvious fact. While Alma believes that feral pigs are a threat to the existence of the unique dwarf foxes and the rats also threaten the lives of the native birds. She, therefore, advocates for the eradication of feral pigs and rats to preserve the natural animal species. Dave Lajoy, on the other hand, opposes the move by the park to eliminate animals. Lajoy strongly believes in the sanctity of both animal and human life.  

Alma supports the protection of the endangered foxes and murrelets even if it means extinction of other species. She affirms that a well educated public will rally support behind him rather than her opponent Lajoy. Alma backs her claims by the fact that the feral pigs and rats were introduced by humans and therefore it’s not a destruction of nature to eradicate them.  Alma further argues that feral pigs and rats were introduced by human and have so far destroyed the natural ecosystem. Her motivation is based on the fact that the indigenous species evolved by nature and thus should not be made extinct by human practice. Lajoy strongly opposes the move by the Park to exterminate rats and feral pigs claiming that these animals have the right to life.   He believes that human should not do anything but rather they should let nature do its own selection. His passion pushes him to make the radical decision of introducing non-indigenous snakes into the park in order to frustrate the Park’s effort of eliminating feral pigs and rats.

Unlike Lajoy, motivated by emotions rather than morals, Alma is driven by her intellectual capacity and moral ethics. Even though he knows that lawns are ecologically dubious in a bid to protect his property. However, when nature takes its course and his grass is destroyed, he seeks the help of animal control unit. This is quiet hypocritical of him. Alma comes as the worthy individual with a genuine concern for the preservation of nature. Lajoy is more concerned about the rights of the animals other than that of humans. Alma is concerned with the well being of human as well as animals. She is motivated by the near-death experience of her grandmother nearly half a century ago. She embarked on the mission of restoring the natural ecosystem by exterminating the rats which are a threat to wildlife. Even though, Lajoy seems to figh for animal’s right, his behavior contradicts his stands. He acts boorishly towards Alma by organizing outside her office. He also attempts to thwart the moves of extermination and this results into the tragic consequences.

Despite her passion of restoring nature, Alma seems to be blinded of the aftermath of exterminating feral pigs and rats. This is because the foxes and native birds will definitely increase to an uncontrollable population. The two characters seem to have a love for animals. However, it is evident that both their stands have detrimental effects to the environment.

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