Answer Key: Rachel Carson

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II. While Reading Tasks


• Vocabulary-Word Inference

1. On June 4, 1963, less than a year after the controversial environmental classic “Silent Spring” was published…

controversial |ˌkäntrəˈvərSHəl, -ˈvərsēəl|-adjective-giving rise or likely to give rise to public disagreement: years of wrangling over a controversial bypass.

2. We still see the effects of unfettered human intervention through Carson’s eyes…

unfetter |ˌənˈfetər|-verb [ with obj. ] (usu. as adj. unfettered)-release from restraint or inhibition: his imagination is unfettered by the laws of logic.

3. Saint Rachel, “the nun of nature,” as she is called, is frequently invoked in the name of one environmental cause or another…

invoke |inˈvōk|-verb [ with obj. ]-cite or appeal to (someone or something) as an authority for an action or in support of an argument: the antiquated defense of insanity is rarely invoked today.

4. Carson was initially ambivalent about taking on what she referred to as “the poison book.” 

ambivalent |amˈbivələnt|-adjective-having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone: some loved her, some hated her, few were ambivalent about her | an ambivalent attitude to technology.

5. “Silent Spring” begins with a myth

myth |miTH|-noun-a traditional story, esp. one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.

6. Carson describes “a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings.

harmony |ˈhärmənē|-noun ( pl. harmonies ) 2 agreement or concord: man and machine in perfect harmony.

7. Carson then asks her readers, “By acquiescing in an act that causes such suffering… who among us is not diminished as a human being?”

acquiesce |ˌakwēˈes|-verb [ no obj. ]-accept something reluctantly but without protest: Sara acquiesced in his decision.

8. In Carson’s view, technological innovation could easily and irrevocably disrupt the natural system.

irrevocable |ˌiˈrevəkəbəl|-adjective-not able to be changed, reversed, or recovered; final: an irrevocable step.

9. “The control of nature was an arrogant idea, and Carson was against human arrogance.”

arrogance |ˈarəgəns|-noun-the quality of being arrogant: the arrogance of this man is astounding.

10. In 1960…after she found out that her breast cancer had metastasized, her tone sharpened toward the apocalyptic.

apocalyptic |əˌpäkəˈliptik|-adjective-describing or prophesying the complete destruction of the world: the apocalyptic visions of ecologists.

Source: New Oxford American Dictionary

Questions for Reading Comprehension:

True / False

  1. F- On June 4, 1963, less than a year after the controversial environmental classic “Silent Spring” was published,…
  2. T- Though she did not set out to do so, Carson influenced the environmental movement.
  3. F- “Silent Spring” presents a view of nature compromised by synthetic pesticides, especially DDT.
  4. F-Much of the data and case studies that Carson drew from weren’t new; the scientific community had known of these findings for some time, but Carson was the first to put them all together…
  5. F-If anything, environmental issues have grown larger — and more urgent — since Carson’s day.
  6. T- Carson was initially ambivalent about taking on what she referred to as “the poison book.”
  7. F-Carson knew that her target audience of popular readers included scores of housewives.
  8. T-Though Carson talked about other pesticides, it was DDT — sprayed aerially over large areas of the United States to control mosquitoes and fire ants — that stood in for this excess.
  9. T-“We are rightly appalled by the genetic effects of radiation,” she wrote. “How then, can we be indifferent to the same effect in chemicals that we disseminate widely in our environment?”
  10. F-But Carson also had powerful advocates, among them President John F. Kennedy, who established a presidential committee to investigate pesticides.

Grammar Focus: Identifying Parts of Speech: Nouns

June, year, classic, Silent Spring, author, Rachel Carson, Senate subcommittee, pesticides, cancer, mastectomy, pelvis, fractures,
seat, table, panel, wig, history, mankind, book, course, history, Senator Ernest Gruen­ing, Democrat, Alaska, Carson, time.