The Rattler: Man Vs. Nature

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Humans and nature have been growing apart for thousands of years. Presently, if humans were capable of existing without nature, it would likely be obsolete with widespread destruction of the natural earth. Focusing on a smaller scale destruction, “The Rattler” describes a man’s encounter with a deadly rattlesnake. The man is faced with the difficult decision to either kill the snake or leave it to roam, posing a potential threat to everyone in his ranch. After heavy deliberation, the man decides that in order to preserve human life, the snake must die. Throughout the short story, the author portrays instinct versus duty in both the man and the snake to help the reader come to a conclusion on whether man and nature can coexist. Through the …show more content…
As the snake encounters the man, he has no intention of harming him; the snake’s potential actions are based solely on the man’s behavior towards him. The author introduces the snake in a state of “calm watchfulness,” waiting for the man to “show [his] intentions.” Unwilling to either fight or clear the man’s path, the snake makes a statement that although he believes that he has the power to fight the man, he understands it will not do him any good. The author bestows the snake with the capability of complex thought in order to make him and the man equal. Even with the faith that he is a worthy contender against the man, the snake is still primarily concerned with preserving his own life. As the man approaches with his weapon, the snake “[draws] back his head,” but instead of attacking, the snake quickly maneuvers “into a bush” where the man will have a harder time killing him. The snake seemingly capable and prepared for a sophisticated attack chooses instead to retreat. Unwilling to be a martyr for a futile cause, the snake forfeits what may be his only shot at an attack in pursuit of perceived safety. The …show more content…
Throughout the story the man becomes increasingly conscious of his situation, altogether altering what he perceives is the right thing to do in his circumstance. Upon his initial encounter with the snake, the man decides that the best thing for him to do is to leave him be. Based on “instinct” alone, the man would like to “let the [snake] go on his way,” since he is thinking only of his safety. The snake is not posing a threat and by provoking him, the man would put his own life at risk without a reason. Upon reflecting on his situation, the man considers the safety of others in regard to the snake, which changes what he is willing to do. He begins to think of the “men and women” back at the ranch and comes to the conclusion that it is his “duty” to “kill the snake.” The man changes his focus from his safety to the idea that by killing the rattlesnake, he could potentially save the lives of the people he cares about. The man makes the decision that the lives of humans are inherently more important than the life of a snake and kills the snake solely for his peace of mind. After using his hoe to essentially murder the snake, the man begins to feel a sense of remorse towards him. The man begins to feel that the way in which the snake dies was “pitiful” and to correct his feelings of immorality, he imagines the snake’s “departure over the twilit sand.” Once the

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