English Essay City Of The Beasts
In the novel “City of the Beasts” by Isabel Allende, a wide range of different attitudes to the Environment are shown by specific characters. An International Geographic expedition is heading to the dangerous, remote wilds of South America, on a mission to document the legendary Yeti of the Amazon known as the Beast. Some of the main characters are: Alex, Nadia and Kate (Alex’s grandmother). All of them journey down the mystical Amazon, battling anacondas and other hazards. Alex is a rather dependant character who put in a totally new Environment where he has to look out for himself, along the way he learns new skills and uses them effectively. When one looks at Nadia’s character it is clear to see that she is a smart and strong character, and is not faced with that many challenges. Kate on the other hand is different to both Alex and Nadia, she has a lot of experience and takes a leading role in the expedition. While Kate on one hand is a tough character she sometimes also shows a soft side here and there during the novel, especially when it is about Alex. they journey down the mystical Amazon, battling anacondas and other hazards
During the whole novel the characters change, adapt and show many different attitudes towards the Environment.
Alexander Cold, a typical fifteen year-old boy. He goes to school, where he’s in band; he has a crush on a girl in his class, likes to rock-climb with his dad, fights with his sisters. Alex’s mother’s struggle with cancer forced him into the care of his grandmother, a writer for International Geographic magazine, which is taking part in an expedition into the heart of the rainforest to observe the strange monsters known only as the Beasts. Once Alex begins to see the larger world around him, far from his suburban home he realises how many new things there are to discover. At the start of the novel he is rather dependant of his parents. “ Is mom going to die?” (pg.11), this shows how worried he is about his mothers health, and that he is rather dependant on her. While Alex lives with his family he also tends to show a high aggression level and automatically destroys anything in his path. “ Then systematically, he set about destroying everything in his room”. The reader gets the impression that due to the stressful Environment, Alex needs to let out his anger from time to time. Yet once he enters the unknown Jungle he learns new things and becomes more of a leading role. “ Take a deep breath. I will teach you to use your fear. I trust you and I trust myself. I will help you climb: we will do it together I promise” (pg.188), one gets the impression that Alex has adapted to the Environment and that his attitude has become more calm, due to this he builds up trust towards other people and himself. During the Anaconda attack he shows great courage and strength to try and rescue Gonzales. “Alex seized Gonzales by one arm and tried to drag him towards land” (pg.134), this shows how Alex is putting himself in danger to rescue someone else’s life. He learns that in the Jungle he needs to be part of the team and look out for others. Another skill that Alex learns during their stay in the Jungle is to live with the nature and learn how to read it. “ Look, Kate, here are broken branches, and in places it looks like the bushes were crushed by enormous feet” (pg.150), this gives the impression that the Environment lets Alex see new things that he has never seen before, due to the changing of his attitude he becomes more and more clever. It is clear to see that at the start of the novel Alex is a boy living in his own well known word, where he feels secure. Yet once he gets put into a new Environment his attitude changes drastically. He starts to believe more in himself, becomes interested in new things and he also learns to take responsibility for his own actions.
On the other hand there are also characters who do not change much throughout the whole novel. Ludovic Leblanc is a famous Anthropologist who has spent years investigating the trail of the so called “Yeti”, on the border between China and Tibet, without any success. He has also worked with Indian tribes in the Amazon, and made the claim that they were the most savage on the planet. “ The Indians boy. They are cannibals; they not only eat their enemies, they et the dead of their own tribe” (pg.128), this gives the strong impression that he is rather inaccurate with his own theories, and hates to be proven wrong. The Jungle is a challenging Environment for the professor because he has a very arrogant attitude most of the time, and is unable to do anything himself. A good example of his arrogance is during the Anaconda attack. “ Do not exaggerate my good women. This man is not seriously hurt, merely frightened. With a little rest he will be himself in a day or two” (pg.137), one can see by this that Leblanc lacks any pity for the victim and only cares about the continuation of the expedition because he will benefit from it. During the whole expedition it is clear to see that Leblanc cares very much only about his own well being and safety. “ This is a dreadful inconvenience. We only have two boats we cannot send one back” (pg.136), this shows how insecure he really is and that he is scared of not being able to be in full safety at all times. While all of the other members of the expedition have a clear sense of being quiet, calm and alert Leblanc totally ignores this and becomes acquisitive at times. “ I like the feathers” (pg.121), this leaves the impression that if Leblanc wants something he will try and get it no matter how loud he gets. He only wanted to shoot the beautiful bird down for the feathers, so to say only to posses and have. I think that Leblanc’s attitude is rather insecure but he hides it by being arrogant and impious at times. The Environment that he is put in is not one for people who are scared and only care about their own safety. His attitude towards the Environment is different compared to most of the other characters in the novel. The other characters all cope quite well with the wild Jungle, while he only complains and tells people what to do.
I think the most clever and intelligent character in the book is Nadia Santos. During the novel she shows a great deal of knowledge. “ Nadia knows the natural world, and she speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, and several of the Indian tongues” (pg.101), the reader gets the impression that she is a smart young girl, which does not need proper education to learn. Her attitude towards the Environment is very calm and open, she just listens and observes. During the Anaconda attack her knowledge about the Indian medicine becomes an enormous help. “ The Indians use tree bark and mud and vines” (pg.136), this shows that Nadia has a wide range of knowledge not just about the Jungle but also about the Indians. In the novel Nadia is presented as the calm, smart and alert character, who can face anything, yet she still has a sensitive side. “ Nadia’s response was to burst into tears and res her head on Alex’ shoulder”, one sees by this that even the stronger character can become frightened once she is put up to her biggest fear. A big trademark in Nadia’s character are her beliefs towards the spiritual world. “ it’s magic, I can’t take it off “ (pg.102), by this the reader gets the feeling that Nadia does not give up anything that she loves or believes in. She also does not see a real value in money, since she does not want to sell the magic necklace. Although Nadia is a young girl she acts very grown up and is not scared to speak her mind, even to adults. “ I can talk to animals to” (pg.102), this gives a clear impression how independent Nadia is and that she has strong beliefs. Nadia’s attitude towards the Environment is alert but yet still calm. She is able to keep a calm mind set it any stressful situation, and even calm other people down. She is the natural born Indian who knows the Jungle better than any of the others.
The three characters all have very different attitudes towards the Environment. All of them grew up differently, which I think makes a big difference in how they see things or react to certain people. For example Alex lived most of his live with his family in a modern town, while Nadia grew up in the Jungle, which reflects on their attitudes. The novel also shows that people can change with time, if they live in a place for a certain amount of time. The attitudes of all the characters get affected by the Environment because during the expedition some of the characters change. I personally think that the attitudes are all so different because of where and how they all lived before.