“Mount St. Helens” Written by Rowe Findley

Category: Article Critique

The article “Mount St. Helens” written by Rowe Findley is a story about the beautiful mountain that revealed its volcanic potential after a long time. The author describes the life near the mountain a week before the volcanic eruption happened (1981). He also depicts the details of the eruption itself, letting readers understand how astonishing, majestic and tragic at the same time it was. The main goal of the article is not just to tell what and where happened, but to demonstrate the pressure of each day before the explosion. It is not a report about the particular event, but rather a story about people’s emotions and impressions of those days. In fact, he could say that the mountain transformed into a volcano, erupted and led to deaths of people. However, the sense of the article is to depict the situation in the way readers can feel that they were there and could observe everything step by step.

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The story about the mountain closely intertwines with the stories of people who are somehow connected with the eruption. The lives of most of them were taken by lava and volcanic ashes because of their own imprudence. Readers may sense regret in the words of Rowe Findley when he talks about Reid Blackburn, Harry Truman or David Johnston who became victims of eruption. At the same time, the construction of the article makes one feel irreversibility and gives an understanding of nature that has own rules, not subject to any of human beings.

My general impression of the article is quite positive. Most of all, I liked that the author coped with the task to recreate the atmosphere of that week and immediately of the day of volcanic eruption. As for me, many articles about various happenings tell the details of the story, so that the information is full and exhaustive; however, they do not keep the spirit of the situation the author depicts. Rowe Findley did it in the perfect way; I felt like I was spending that week next to him while reading the text. He kept the pressure of the situation and played with emotions of the reader. The story of Harry Truman touched me because there were many details about his life and inner connection with the Mount St. Helens. Of course, I felt truly sorry about what had happened to that man and assumed that not all people may like this sad aspect of the story, but Harry's story seems to be a necessary complementary element of the article.

The remark that I would like to make is that this article might have been more interesting for me if there were not so many descriptions of natural processes, but more stories of people, connected with the mountain and volcanic eruption. When I read about some happening, I prefer to know what people did and thought in that moment rather than read about the “step-by-step” details of the happening itself. Nevertheless, I understand that it is National Geographic article, and the element of description of geological object or process is essential.

It would be good if this article could reach the wide audience of different people because it touches upon the significant aspect of our life, which is called survival instinct. The example of victims of volcanic eruption who have bidden farewell to their life shows that they could have avoided such a destiny if they realized what danger that mountain could bring. The problem of the modern world is that human beings think that they are stronger than Mother Nature. People were sure that nothing would happen to them because they have lost the fear of death. It is worth remembering that natural catastrophes happen suddenly, and nature is not going to warn anybody about what happens next. Moreover, the technical progress changes the planet, and nature can react to certain events in an unpredictable way. Therefore, everyone should be cautious. Geologists and geographers still lack knowledge about what to do in some situations, such as the volcanic eruption of St. Helens. People should remember that they cannot control everything, especially nature, and precautionary measures can save a life in case of an extraordinary situation.