Beyond Katrina Book Review

Excerpt from Book Review :

Beyond Katrina

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines meditation, in basic terms, as "a discourse intended to express its author's reflections or to guide others in contemplation." In an interview with Jonathan Fink, Trethewey reveals that her text is aimed at recollecting people's historical and collective memory (Hall 85). This is the only sure way to deal with the issue of history-erasure, and have a more complete version. The author's aim, therefore, is to "reclaim and to get as many of those erased stories back into the larger narrative" (Hall 85).

This section's main focus is showing the degree of importance attached to commercialized activities, at the expense of the environment, and people's safety. However, other points of concern are: the state's tendency to forget about the victims of such catastrophes, the change in the social aspect of people's lives after Hurricane Katrina, and the large extent of erasure facing such historical occurrences.

Effect of Commercialized Activities

Gulfport experienced massive economic growth in the late 1940s, attracting a large number of business developers. The rise in business developments brought more opportunities for employment, leading to growth of both the population and commercialized activities. The economic success continued through the 1950s and 60s, before Hurricane Camille struck in 1969. Attempts to revive Gulfport's economic affluence, which had been largely affected by the 1969 Hurricane Camille, saw the passage of the Mississippi Gaming Control Act in 1990 (Trethewey 64). The legislation legalized gambling and consequently saw the development of a significant number of coastal casinos. The resultant growth was extensive. For instance, "between 1992 and 1996, the number of hotel rooms at the coast increased from six thousand to more than nine thousand" (Trethewey 65).

The high economic growth yielded a number of positive results. In addition to the fact that gambling served as a leisure activity for many young people, casino activities, in totality, brought about many opportunities for employment. Most locals got absorbed in the areas of food and client service, management, security, and in the construction and renovation of new and existing buildings (Trethewey 67). Moreover, part of the revenues realized from the casino industry was used for the reformation of the education and police sectors in the coastal region.

However, the economic growth had its share of negative results: inadequate policies to ensure employee safety, and environmental damage. Casino employees worked under degrading conditions, without the fundamental "benefits, including workman's compensation - when any of the workers sustained injuries on the job, they paid for the trip to the emergency room themselves" (Trethewey 65).

By 1998, the effects of gaming activities were quite noticeable. The coastal shoreline was greatly altered as more sites for dockside gambling developed, and the shore was pushed further inwards. The resulting rise in the sea-water level was responsible for the disappearance of wetlands, which play a crucial role in "cleansing polluted water, recharging ground water, and absorbing storm wave energy" (Trethewey 60). In effect, wetland loss was dangerous for both marine and human life, as it "rendered the Mississippi Gulf Coast more susceptible to hurricane devastation" (Trethewey 60).

The poem 'providence' depicts the extent to which Gulfport was exposed to natural disaster. The poem paints a picture of the extremely strong winds witnessed, just before Hurricane Camille struck. Additionally, the haunting images that Treetheway recorded in the notebook allude to this fact. In the author's words, these recordings are evidence enough, that she, "like many people from the Mississippi Gulf Coast are haunted - even at the edges of consciousness -- by the possibility of a natural disaster" (Trethewey 7).

The Change in People's Social Lives

The change in people's interactions after Katrina is shown through Aesha, the girlfriend to the author's brother. Despite the fact that she has a month's claim, she gets evicted from her apartment. In her words "her landlords didn't care -- or couldn't care --…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Hall, Joan W., ed. Conversations with Natasha Trethewey. New York: Harper Collins, 2014. Print.

Trethewey, Natasha. Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Athens: University of Georgia, 2010. Print.

Cite This Book Review:

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