The enormous control that people have on the health of the earth has become a major problem. It is the duty the people of every nation to decide on whether they choose to continue with their ways and watch the world crash before their eyes or to do something to prevent the end from coming. “Perhaps the World Ends Here”, by Joy Harjo, exemplifies the relationship between her people, the Native Americans, and the earth. Her poem shows how all societies need the “gifts of earth” (Harjo 548) to survive and yet they have nothing to give back to the earth.
Harjo uses a combination of metaphors, allusions, and symbolism to emphasize the fact that people of all ethnicities should realize the impact they are able to have on the earth and how they set the stage for the future generations. Metaphors are repetitively used to allow there to be multiple interpretations regarding how significant ones actions can transform their country. In the words of prolific writer of songs and poetry, Joy Harjo “the world begins at a kitchen table” (Harjo 548). A kitchen table is usually seen as the center of a household.
Then perhaps, Harjo is literally speaking of a kitchen table or the kitchen table may be a representative form of a house, a capitol of a country, or even the heart of a human being. She allows for this wide variety of interpretation due to the fact that if one is willing to change their ways for the better of their country then where they start is their choice. They may start by changing themselves or they may begin by working to change their government. However, if one does not choose to change their ways, Harjo warns “our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children” (Harjo 548).
Our dreams, what people want their life to be like, will be passed to our children because we haven’t awakened them yet. Just as one might need a cup or two of coffee to function for the day, our dreams require us to act as their coffee and take the effort to make them come true. The symbolism in this poem demonstrates how an individual might precede to change the way they choose to live. To initiate this, Harjo states that “the gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table.
So it has been since creation, and it will go on” (Harjo 548). The gifts of earth represent everything a human being takes from nature and their country in order to survive. They have taken food, cotton, coal, water, and gold from the ground that they live on and humans always will take from nature. Now the question that remains is how nature is supposed to recover and forever provide these things. It is the older generations’, according to Joy Harjo to give the children of their country instructions on what it means to be human (Harjo 548).
In other words, the parents and grandparents must teach the future generations to give back to nature, so that it may endlessly sustain them. To rephrase Joy Harjo’s words, a person’s “table” is a place to protect them from dangers like a house in the rain or an umbrella in the sun (548). Allusions allow the readers to picture events that have already occurred and show examples of why people have a duty to change their ways. “Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror.
A place to celebrate the terrible victory” (Harjo 548) alludes to the conflicts and peaceful negotiations that have occurred. “We chase chickens and dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it” (Harjo 548). These statements suggest to the fact that people of one country will fight for their land and homes so that they may raise their children there. All of the effects that people might have on their country, family, and even themselves are exemplified by Joy Harjo’s use of literary terms.
Whether it is a singular person, a small group, or an entire country they can affect nature the only difference is the amount of damage they cause. Thus everyone should ask themselves, what type of issues should my family and I be focusing on to change? The apparent problems are global warming, pollution, and war. These directly damage nature, whether they contaminates the air, water, or destroys plants and soil nutrition. Yet another matter that indirectly harms our environment and people do not usually consider are diseases.
When an individual becomes ill, the medicine they must take to feel well again is made of herbs and other natural materials. Is there anything an individual can do to change the future, if so then what? There are ways to also help future generations make sure that the world doesn’t end here. The first step is to take action by recycling, donating items others need, riding a bike to work. Even if people are not able do all of these things, even the small actions count. However, if an individual is capable of changing their own lifestyle, then go further.
Encourage more to join the cause; make sure the world does not end here. The more that participate to take care of the earth, the better the earth will take care of them. To ensure that the “gifts of earth” (Harjo 548) will always be available the younger generations must be taught how they can take care of nature but also the extreme importance this task is. Human existence is at the mercy of the wellbeing and development of the earth.