California and the artificiality of trying to live in a harsh environment
Jonathan Segal, English 171, Sages and Satirists, Brown University, 2002
One could argue that the state of Califonia casts a shadow over the entire collection of essays. In the American consciousness, California evokes several images:
- the end of the frontier
- a land of freaks
- natural disasters
In the essay "Holy Water," Didion outlines how a system of aquaducts and reserviors provides water across the entire state, making life in the middle of the desert possible. A particularly glaring example of the far-reaching effects of the system is on pp. 62 and 63, tracing a tropical storm's effects on a movie shooting schedule.
Didion says "This is a Calfornia Parable, but a true one."
- What does she mean by a California Parable? What about this anecdote is so "California?"
- How many levels of artifice are there in these two paragraphs? How far removed from reality is the end result of the story?
- What does this paragraph imply about Californian's relationship to the state of nature?
Last modified 3 December 2006