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Sagar Sood

IB English A1 Yr 1
Small Wonder
Due: 16th March

How far and to what effect does Kingsolver combines such explorations of interior

matters with the consideration of the external world?

Small wonder, a collection of essays by Barbara Kingsolver is a perfect example

of the relationship between man and its dual world, the interior and the exterior. Humans

and their relationship with other humans, for example love and friendship are one’s

interior world. These are the quantities that are not physical but are limited between

humans and also include memories and experiences. The exterior world, as it suggests,

includes all the physical quantities, in and around us. The relationship between the two

can be seen in Kingsolver’s collection of essays. Kingsolver uses her interior world and

her experiences to portray a better picture of the exterior world.

Barbara Kingsolver was born and raised in a farm in the countryside of Kentucky.

She spent most of her life away from the modern and technological world, as it can be

noticed in the essay, ‘The One Eyed Monster, And Why I Don’t Let Him In’. In this piece

of work, Kingsolver says that the television is a source of degradation of human mind.

After working in a farm all her childhood life, one would obviously discourages the use

of television and prefer reading newspapers. She uses her internal world in order to relate

to the use of television, being the external. In the essay, ‘A Fist in the Eye of God’, she

talks about nature and its true importance. Again, because she has spent her childhood
days with her best friend nature, she tends to show her appreciation for it. She talks about

Darwin’s famous theories and gives respect to it as she herself studied genetic

engineering in college. All this relates to her personal experiences, feeling and memories

from her early days and this helps the readers to understand the details and the unseen of

our external world.

“Here’s a secret you should know about mothers: We spy. Yes, on our kids.”

(Kingsolver, 145) In the essay, ‘Letter to my Daughter at Thirteen’, Kingsolver pens

down her interior matters with her daughter and how all mothers take care of their

daughters. She starts off by saying that all mothers keep an eye on their children since

their birth. Also by adding that girls should take care of themselves (indirectly referring

to sexually transmitted diseases), she pools in her experiences to show that a lot can

happen in the cruel external world. ‘Letter to my Mother’ can be considered as a sequel to

the last essay. Here, Kingsolver writes a number of journal cum letters to her mother

where she expresses her feelings more openly. She does so by indirectly emphasizing on

the importance of letters and how they tend to open up one’s mind. She prefers to pen

down her emotions on paper rather than chatting on the phone or the internet. This essay

is a perfect example of Kingsolver combining her interior matters with the consideration

of the external matters, where she shows her relationship with her mother with respect to

the importance of writing letters.

In the essay ‘Going to Japan’, Kingsolver shares the experience of her first trip to

Japan. She relates her experience of research to the more important part of the trip, the

importance of peace in the world. She also adds another major point; the differences in

cultures that are eating up the world, one instance could be seen at the Ground Zero in

Hiroshima. She gives different instances of how difficult she found to blend into another

and completely different culture, which all humans do and most of them tend to react

differently. In the essay ‘Life is Precious, or It’s Not’, the author mainly focuses on the

acts of violence committed by youngsters and blames the modern media and

technologies. She refers to the Columbine High School shootout for this subject and

questions the use of guns and bombs for eliminating troubles. She again blames the

media for showing such acts of violence but also adds that kids tend to follow the adults

and their actions. She explains that one’s life is precious to them, but during the time of

mass murders and acts of violence, one doesn’t even think about the importance of

other’s life. “….by removing from our households and lives every television program,

video game, film, book, toy and DC that presents the killing of human as an

entertainment option, rather than the appalling loss that really is.”(Kingsolver, 183)

Lastly, she suggests that by removing the sources like the television and video games

which illustrate the acts of violence and bloodshed, one can start the process of removing

violence from our society.

Kingsolver has written numerous journals and essays where she has compiled her

experiences and thoughts to portray a picture of our world from a completely different

view. She has showed the relationship between man and his dual world in ‘Small

Wonder’, and how he gets affected by it daily, without even noticing. She has compiled

her personal experiences and memories to prove her points about the dangers and/or

beauty of the external world.