An essay about how the book "The Survival of the Bark Canoe" is interdisciplinary.

Essay by nef97University, Master'sA+, May 2002

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The Survival of the Bark Canoe

I wish that I could say that I really enjoyed reading The Survival of the Bark Canoe by John McPhee. The book was well written and interesting, but I felt that I was taking up time that needed to be spent elsewhere. The Survival of the Bark Canoe was able to cover the four core area's, and I guess that is the important aspect of the book.

Core A, the first of the four core area's, is about society and self. I found myself thinking about this core when reading about the tensions building up between the members of the group taking the canoe trip. How do the group dynamics compare to the thoughts of the individuals? I found that it was through these group interactions that we learned more about Henri Vaillancourt. In the beginning of the book we see Henri as almost a God in that he knows so much about the birch-bark canoes.

It is throughout the book that we see that his knowledge is limited to the building of the canoes. He is definitely lacking in social skills, as we see in his carrying of the canoe during the portages. He also lacks knowledge when it comes to steering a canoe. As readers, we would not learned of any of these aspects of Henri without the other characters for him to play off of.

The next core area is Core B--or the individual and the material world. This is the science area of the Hutchins program. I felt that this core was addressed in the discussions on the making of the birch-bark canoes. John McPhee described to us the process that Henri Vaillancourt went through to make the birch-bark canoes. Henri used an old form of "technology" when building...