Author’s Purpose

I’ve promised my students I would blog as often as I’m asking them to, and this week they’re blogging about author’s purpose (so I guess I am too).

The book I finished this week was Dark Justice by William Benhardt, and a discussion of author’s choice gives me a great opportunity to talk about Benhardt’s real reason for writing the book. I liked the book for what it was–a suspense similar to others I work through to give my gray matter a little break from grad school and teaching tenth grade; it was entertaining as most suspense novels are (I love trying to untangle all the mystery before the end…). But Bernhardt had a little more on his mind when he wrote this one–It’s a conversation between the logging companies and the groups who protest them.

Bernhardt did some nice research for this piece, and it shows. He discusses and informs the reader on subjects such as tree spiking, a practice used by protesters to slow loggers and wreck their machinery. He references a case (rather famous) where tree spiking by a group called Earth First was blamed for the death of a California logger, when the actual culprits may have been suburban residents angry about logging near their neighborhood. He also mentions that perhaps there are three sides (if not more) to the environmental protection argument, and that the government and the logging industry can be less than open about their agendas.

And all of that information giving background to Bernhardt’s fictional story of a member of a protest group being charged with murdering a logger when a bomb explodes a tree cutter in an old-growth forest in the middle of the night.

Author’s purpose? Primarily, to entertain. But also to inform and persuade the reader (one way or another)–to consider the much more weighty issue of ecological preservation and how far some sides will go to protect what they feel is important.

ON A SIDE NOTE: Read a poem today by Margaret Atwood called “They Give Evidence,” written in response to seeing an art installation by someone named Dadang Christanto. Here’s the link to the art, and I can see why she would be moved to write about the experience…


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