Excerpt from The Fool's Progress: An Honest Novel
(This passage from the book communicates a strong point
regarding the trapping of animals)
Inconsolable memories. Appalachian autumn. Rustle of wind
through the dry corn, rattle of dead leaves beneath our feet, the frosty breath
of morning, the sleepy stasis of Indian summer. Mornings and at night we walked
our trapline with flashlight and .22 rifle. Hoping for fox, silver fox
(wealth!), but catching mostly only skunk and muskrat. Sometimes in early dawn
we'd find a muskrat dead in our trap, half frozen into the ice. Or now and then,
not often, one small furry foot with chewed-off stump clutched in the steel
jaws. A cruel business, our mother kept reminding us. Will shrugged, I was
embarrassed, the old man scoffed.
"Look, Lorrie," Paw would growl, "they don't hurt much. The trap
grabs and holds 'em, that's all. Those poor critters are gonna die anyhow, out
there in the cold and dark. We're just harvestin' the surplus."
"You don't harvest living creatures," Mother said. "What a
disgusting word. You're killing them for personal profit."
"All right, all right. But we need the money and you know it."
One evening Paw brought one of our Victor single-spring varmint traps up from
the cellar. He was going to settle the cruelty argument with Mother once and for
all. Carefully, while Mother watched, knitting, our old man squeezed the spring
and spread the trap flat on the dinner table. He latched the bait pan to the
release trigger and drew back. The trap was ready. "Okay, Lorrie, now watch
this." Paw clenched his big right hand into a fist and smashed it down on
the pan. The trap sprang shut. Grinning, he held up his caught right hand and
the trap, its tether chain dangling. "See?" he said. "See that,
goddamnit? I told you, Lorrie, it hardly hurts a-tall. I hardly feel it.
See?" Triumphantly he looked at me, at Will, at Paul. "Ain't this what
I been telling you boys all along?"
Impressed, we looked at Mother to see what she would say. Smiling her ironic
smile, needles clicking in her fingers, she said, "You’re not finished, Joe."
"What’s that mean?"
She paused. "Now we want to see you gnaw your hand off."
(Reproduced without permission. I don't think Edward Abbey
mind. -- Go buy the book!)