Jan 25, 2018 in Literature

The Brown Wasps

As pointed out by Bear (1), The Brown Wasps is a Loren Eiseley’s essay which demonstrates how human sense of place and self can be based on the fantasy and false remembrance. He notes that Eiseley, through his writing, depicts humans and animals as primarily clinging to things they are strongly acquitted to and even in most cases they act as if nothing has changed at all. According to him, the Eiseley’s essay portrays how humans and animals tend to relate to nature intrinsically based on their belief rather than the reality. This raises philosophical concerns as to why people tend to keep to their fixed images even in the unchanging present times. This paper summarizes and responds to the article The Brown Wasps.

Summary and Response to the Article

At the beginning of the essay, Eiseley carefully constructs a rumination that illustrated how humans and animals tend to act in a similar manner. Eiseley compares the homeless men who find shelter in train stations with the scenario of the wasp that continuously revisits its hive for accommodation. This is evident in the manner in which both men and wasps die in their special areas. As pointed out by Bear (1), Eiseley depicts homeless men coming to die to the train station benches as similar to the death of wasps in the paper homes. He notes that men sit and cling to benches at the train stations and at times fail to leave the benches even when chased by policemen. Equally, Eiseley notes as dying wasps are lingering around their hives until they are worn out and died. This shows that human beings, just like other animals, have an imaginary home in their minds that acts as their reference point to the actions.

Additionally, he uses the wasps and homeless men scenario in the article to denote that all that matters in this world is occupying a given space. Dickson (1) notes that Eiseley in his essay depicts a place as the heart of things that humans and animals engage in. However, the similarity at which Eiseley denotes humans’ and animals’ imagination about special place is what raises philosophical issues. According to Dickson (1), Eiseley shows that other living creatures tend to carry these special places within their minds similar to humans. He notes that the repercussive effect of this notion towards animal is whether a cat, dog or a cow on their returning to their homes, see the buildings as anything rather than a place for biological needs.


Moreover, Eiseley in his essay denotes human beings and animals as primarily clinging to a given time and place where they have adapted to. As he notes, “both the dead and the living revolve endlessly about an episode, an event that has been engulfed by time”. Dickson (1) points out that the central memory of place, and the episode of things that happen around us is the pivotal centre around which other events and other memories have been organized at a given time. For instance, Eiseley notes that a slug eating ice cream in abandoned Dixie cup which is its right place and furthers with the act until something changes that is a bit of ice cream left over. The concept of originality tries to exemplify why people tend to lose the reality especially in case of mental illness. This is due to the fact that changes in gene depression normally alter the brain functionality thereby ensuring loss of original home and reality. Therefore, it is important to base our present activities on previous fixed image in order to keep the originality of ourselves which wholly dictates our functionality.

On the other hand, Eiseley’s essay gives the notion of human beings and animals that try to recreate imaginary structures in order to cling to their original ways. This is evident when Eiseley denotes a group of pigeons who returned to the demolished railway station in order to hopefully recreate their home. He notes that the fact that these pigeons were provided by food by people at the railway station, they had clung to the place as the heart of things that would enhance their existence. By this, Eiseley signified that only the past can be a nail to which our present existence and success can be anchored to.

According to Cain (132), the boy in the narrative has never lost the grit about the tree because he could remember some of the past spoken words by his father. She points out that the tree which was planted by the boy sixty years ago had taken roots in his mind and he believed that living under its branches was going to make him prosper. This tree, which represents the family, denotes how old the family life is. It also indicates that we constantly look at it in order to form the basic construction of our memories.

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In conclusion, The Brown Wasps essay has highlighted human minds as based on the past events that dictate their present lives. It shows the need of people to adapt to changing environments that help them to restructure their minds from fixed imagination in order to live in an organized society. Moreover, time and place have been noted as important elements of life.


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