Dave is opposed to Alma's extermination of selected species because he believes that she is playing God, but do his actions in relocating certain animals to the islands actually do the same thing?
Dave equates "playing God" to deciding whether a living creature lives or dies and therefore sees his relocation of certain species as an act of intervention, or life saving. This would definitely be the case if he was randomly relocating any animal that he came across and repopulating an island with a variety of animals. However, because he is also employing a method of "selection" in the same way as Alma he too is "playing God" because although he is selecting animals with the purpose of saving their lives he is still selecting some to live and leaving others to their fate under Alma's watch. Because Dave is very black and white in his opinions he sees himself as Alma's polar opposite but in fact he and Alma are doing the same thing driven by beliefs that are the antithesis of each other.
Beverly and the rays arrive on Anacapa in the same way. What is the author saying about humans by creating similar scenarios for humans and rodents?
By creating a scenario whereby Beverly and the rats arrive in the same manner, the author is illustrating that man is the supreme invasive species. The only unchanged environment in the world is that where there is nothing that humans can make use of, such as the desert. The great irony highlighted in the novel is that like the rats, humans are species that come from elsewhere and are not indigenous to the land they quickly inhabit, but their arrival, like that of the rats, quickly overwhelms and changes the landscape that was there naturally.
What does the novel say about extreme environmental groups? Do they help or harm the cause of environmentalism?
The FPA, the fictional environmental group in the novel, are loosely based on the real-life Animal Liberation Front. They are a sometimes violent and always radical extremist group who will stop at nothing to make their point. This is a double-edged sword as on on hand they highlight issues that are extremely important, but on the other hand they often contravene the law and put others in harms way in order to do it which draws negative attention, and also draws attention to them, not to the issue they are claiming to be concerned about. The novel shows that there is a very fine line between activism and radicalism and the FPA walks that line, but more often than not falls on the extremist side of the line which makes it difficult to sympathize with them ev if one agrees with the original cause that they are espousing.
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