When the Killing's Done Themes

When the Killing's Done Themes

Man's Effect on the Enviroment

The central theme of the novel is the effect that man has on the environment and specifically how negative that effect is. The two principal characters both interfere with the natural world, Alma by selecting which animals should die in order to enable others to live, and Dave by emulating Noah and providing the animals an ark in which to populate another island. The over-riding suggestion of the novel is that man has spread into every undiscovered part of the world and adapted it for his own benefit, usually to the detriment of the indigenous species. Man is shown to be the most offensive invader of all species.

Environmental Activism

Dave is a radical environmental campaigner who does not let a little thing like the law prevent him from doing something to defend what he sees as environmental terrorism by the government. The government agencies view Dave and his fellow eco terrorists as a criminal element. The theme of this dilemma is apparent throughout the book. The environmental campaigners believe that they draw attention to acts of environmental piracy by their generally lawless behavior, but cannot see that this behavior itself is what gets the attention and that positioning themselves as a criminal element is only drawing attention to themselves; the issues are lost amid disgust about their lack of regard for the law and the lives of innocent people. Similarly it is seen as important that protest over policy decisions that wipe out species and promote deforestation or pollution is allowed to flourish to make sure that the ability to fight lawfully for the planet is protected.

Playing God

Dave believes Alma is playing God because she is engaging in a kind of selection, and deciding herself which species are worthy of continuing to live and which are not. Dave, although he cannot see it, is also playing God, by relocating certain species and deciding for them where they will populate. If neither character played God the process of natural selection would eventually decide by survival of the fittest which of the species lived and which died out. In this way both characters play God although neither sees this in themselves.

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