Desert Solitaire Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. The author has arrived in Utah, having come from New Mexico. How different is the terrain in this new place from what he is accustomed to?

Much of New Mexico is dry and hot, like Utah. It also has mountainous areas. This Utah wilderness environment may not be unfamiliar to Abbey in terms of the flora and fauna and weather conditions. He certainly does not seem afraid or particularly out of his element, and does not mention having any trouble driving in the snow. The reader gets the impression that he is not unfamiliar with this kind of terrain and has probably spent a lot of time in nature.

2. For what does the author seem to be searching by taking this job?

He seems to be looking for a sense of nature that he cannot find when he is around people and society. He is looking for a depth and tenor of the wilderness that is imperceptible to most people, and even to himself in most circumstances. He seems to feel there is more to be gotten from life than just being a human living in a culture of other humans. He is definitely on a mission to find a certain quality of "mysticism in which the naked self merges with a non-human world and yet somehow survives still intact, individual." In other words he wants to become one with nature without losing his sense of self.

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