His heroic actions in helping his crew escape net him numerous military awards, but he has a bum leg and is discharged. She fears no physical harm, either from nature or the forces against the protestors. He loves the outdoors and obsessively documents the family's trips. The Overstory examines the relationships humans have with trees. In 2019, The Overstory was awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for fiction. He has a large family and his children remain on the property and watch over the tree. In America he starts a family, works hard, and rarely talks about China until Mimi tells him other children were making fun of her. As The Overstory unfolds, the paths of several of its characters converge in events inspired by the so-called Redwood Summer of 1990. This is the central contention in The Overstory: that entities in nature, and life itself, have agency, purpose, and personhood—and we have ethical obligations to all such persons. "The Overstory Study Guide". "Listen. But one day, I came across a single tree that had, for whatever reason, escaped the loggers. The Overstory has problems. While she plans to only stay with him until he stabilizes, she eventually commits to him and the extensive care he requires for the long-term. W.W. Norton & Company. A Chinese student from a wealthy family who attains a visa to go to America to study engineering. How about the last 20 years or longer? Nick is somewhat of a slacker at the beginning of the book. A research scientist Patricia meets in the woods where she is working for the BLM. The Question and Answer section for The Overstory is a great One of the eco-warriors who welcomes Nick and Olivia into the fray. The Overstory leaves you with a slightly adjusted frame of reference.… What was happening to his characters passed into my conscience, like alcohol into the bloodstream, and left a feeling behind of grief or guilt, even after I put it down. However, Dorothy decides she has to leave Ray. After the failed arson attempt in which Olivia is killed, she firmly breaks ties with the others, including Douglas, who by this time had become her lover. He considers himself more pragmatic than them, especially when he refuses to get help for Olivia when she is dying because they would all be found out. The main characters of this fiction, environment story are , . He dies at age 58 from what is apparently a heart attack. In Westerford, there is an entirely scientific and naturalistic path to this perception. The Question and Answer section for The Overstory is a great He carries on the photography project, and when he goes off to fight in WWI, he tells his son to do the same. He has a spiritual encounter with the trees in Stanford’s quad, and devises the idea for an epic game of worlds. She is smart, opinionated, fierce. He takes the nickname “Doug-fir” and engages in criminal acts of trespassing, vandalism, etc. She decides to leave Ray but he suffers a brain aneurysm. Emmett is not very patient with his brother's differences. Patricia has been fascinated by trees for her entire life, and at a young age learns from her father that they are able to communicate with each other. Her understanding of the eventual doom of the planet prompts her to start Seedbank, a place where thousands of seeds from around the world can be kept safe for some unknowable future in which they may be used to repopulate the world’s forests. As a younger man, Douglas enlisted in the Stanford Prison Experiment, which was a study of the psychological effects of power versus perceived power. Neelay's mother. If the trees of this earth could speak, what would they tell us? Copyright © 1999 - 2020 GradeSaver LLC. GradeSaver, 24 October 2019 Web. At the beginning of the novel, Olivia is a college student almost ready to graduate, and she is characterized by cynicism, ambivalence, and recklessness. The wealthy and educated patriarch of a Chinese family. On her journey across the country to join the protesters, she meets Nick Hoel and the two of them join up together after they see their worldviews line up; they eventually fall deeply in love. Patricia loses her teaching position and becomes suicidal, but after changing her mind, she decides to live a solitary life as a park ranger. Readers’ questions about The Overstory. At times The Overstory borders on the didactic, but compelling characters, beautiful language, and astounding ideas keep us firmly in the realm of literature. He decides to try to do something to reverse this and signs up to become part of a re-planting team. They want an illusionist and a bringer of hope, she realizes, so she decides to give a stirring and honest speech and then commit suicide via drinking poisonous tree extracts in front of the gathering to make a statement—this is the only thing humans can really do for the planet. Osborne-Bartucca, Kristen. Nick’s life changes forever when he meets Olivia, who randomly stops in when she sees his insouciant but serious sign “Free Tree Art” on the road. India's Chipko Andolan In The Overstory, a few of the characters become environmental activists in order to save the wealth of forests in the American West and Pacific Northwest. When looking for a literary analogue, The Overstory is almost something of a Dostoevskian novel. After Mimas is cut down, he and Mimi, Adam, Olivia, and Nick carry out acts of eco-terrorism. John's son. . . • Nicholas Hoel – an artist of Norwegian and Irish descent who comes from a long line of farmers and whose great-great-great grandfather planted a chestnut tree that survived blight for decades and enthralled the Hoel family for generations. Which of the characters do you most relate to and why? From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers’s twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Nor Guardian (UK) Mimi Mia, a Chinese-American corporate conformist, rejects her ambitious track to save trees in her city. The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of—and paean to—the natural world. Osborne-Bartucca, Kristen. Adam's eldest sister. An essential tool for all reading groups! Dorothy Cazaly is a stenographer for the law firm where Ray works. Dorothy's lover-turned-boyfriend who wants to start a life with her, but she is still taking care of Ray and refuses to stop. Ray knows about this but loves his wife and does not want her to leave; he does not care what she does secretly as long as she is with him. The youngest Ma daughter, sister to Mimi and Carmen. They compete for … Which do you find hardest to understand? Characters… Adam's brother. He travels the country with no specific destination in mind, and, to his disgust, begins to see the deforestation that is taking place. She is patient and loving in ways she never was in their youth, and together the two of them find meaning in each other and the natural world. These were the forests that had been clear-cut to build San Francisco, and it seemed to me that they had grown back wonderfully. This does not stop him from attending Stanford and becoming a master coder. She is vindicated, but wary of becoming more public. It is a bestseller and she is grudgingly pulled back into the larger world. Dennis and Patricia marry, and he is a supportive and loving husband to her for the duration of his life (he dies before she does, being about a decade older than her). He’d probably be the Herman Melville of ‘Moby Dick’.” The Washington Post review said The Overstory was “Remarkable . Powers explains, “I was teaching at Stanford and living in Palo Alto, in the heart of Silicon Valley. The Overstory study guide contains a biography of Richard Powers, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. He is killed at Argonne. After the group disbands, he continues on in his teaching career and marries and has a child. resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel. The two spend a year in Mimas together and fall in love. Neelay's beloved father who jumpstarts the boy's interest in computers and coding. When the scramble for the future down in the valley was too much for me, I would head up to walk in the woods. Powers’ (Orfeo, 2014, etc.) THE OVERSTORY By Richard Powers 502 pp. After the prison experiment, he joins the military. Jean looks out for Adam the most out of his siblings. Dorothy, however, is restless and begins having an affair. The themes are different of course—-Powers is not interested in discussing God or the basis of morality—but one does get the sense in reading the Overstory that the plot, characters and various literary devices are all at the service of the author’s philosophical vision. After he hears the news, he suffers a brain aneurysm. The Overstory Character List Olivia Vandergriff (Maidenhair). He is particularly close to his father and the two spend the boy’s youth building computers and coding. Winston's wife, the daughter of a failed southern planting family. Instead, he falls out the tree and she awkwardly comes to visit him in the hospital and return his notebook to him. There is enough information to convict him for arson and murder, but he cuts a deal and turns in Adam to protect Mimi. By making the game designer Neelay Mehta a major character in this story, Powers shows readers that virtual reality – alternative story lines, alternative futures – will be at the heart of this novel. In her later years she agonizes over her actions and tries to come to terms with them, and with her relationship with the trees. It was the width of a house, the length of a football field, and as old as Jesus or Caesar. . When he is a teenager, he falls out of a tree and is paralyzed from the waist down, needing a wheelchair and care for the rest of his life. The Overstory is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of - and paean to - the natural world. While he seems to love his children, he loses his temper easily and becomes violent. She and Moses are killed when their office is bombed. $27.95.. For other characters, the path is more intuitive, sensual, and mystical. He is mesmerized by her, and begins to see his fate knitted with hers. Have you been an activist? Douglas has no family and so enlists in various institutions that can provide him with one. Adam's other sister. In the first short section of The Overstory, a character looks up into a tree described as “fractal.” As James Gleick pointed out decades ago in Chaos, tree branches create a non-linear pattern of fractal self-similarity, both to the tree as a whole and to other branches. Deena Metzger This book is written for you. an array of human temperaments and predicaments as manifold as Charles Dickens’ or Leo Tolstoy’s . The Overstory. Five of the characters — Nicholas, Olivia, Douglas, Mimi, and Adam — will come together as eco-activists and, ultimately, eco-warriors/eco-terrorists (depending on one’s point of view). Douglas desperately wants to remain with Mimi, but she prohibits this so the authorities will not find them out. Their relationship is up and down for awhile, as Dorothy is wary of being tied down and being someone’s property, but they marry eventually. His fame grows in the valley as he puts out his greatest creation, Mastery, and its even more accomplished successors. Powers also weaves in the stories of the trees themselves, initially having thought they would be the main characters but deciding to have them play supporting—but crucial—roles. He is living in New York, wandering around the Occupy Movement, when he encounters Douglas. It seemed to me that we had been at war for a long time, trees and people, and I wondered if it might be possible for things ever to go any other way. He is never caught by the authorities. Adam's dissertation advisor whom he finds quite attractive. He has been coasting through life on... Mimi Ma (Mulberry). A Norwegian immigrant who works at the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a young man until he marries an Irish girl, Vi, and moves to Iowa. Within a few months, I quit my job at Stanford and devoted myself full time to writing The Overstory.”, Powers began researching, reading more than one hundred books that included field guides, scientific tomes, and other esoteric works. If so for what causes? As he gets older and feebler, he has to move to a clinic in Minnesota, but he is able to remotely experience Neelay's worlds with him. Not affiliated with Harvard College. After the last action goes awry and Olivia is killed, Nick becomes estranged from the others. One day she meets two researchers and learns that while she has been out of commission, her work has been reassessed and expanded upon. No reading group should be without this book club companion to Richard Powers's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Overstory.This comprehensive guide includes useful literary context; a full plot summary, discussion of themes and symbols; detailed character notes; thought-provoking discussion questions; recommended further reading and a quick … A woman who comes to see Mimi for therapy and endures the hours of silent eye contact, emerging a changed person. There’s something you need to hear". Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this The Overstory study guide. Has The Overstory changed your perspective? . He takes Patricia with him on his road trips, sharing his knowledge and pushing her to think about what humans are doing to the natural world. Their early years are rough because they cannot have children, though Dorothy desires a child intensely, and they have to find other ways to find meaning. He suggests literature has a role in this, that “there’s a whole new story that we’re going to have to learn how to tell. His dissertation blended these two interests together when he devised the subject matter—environmental protesters and what drives them. The Overstory is a book for all readers who despair of humanity’s self-imposed separation from the rest of creation and who hope for the transformative, regenerating possibility of a homecoming. He is known for speaking about humans' cognitive blindness. The daughter of an immigrant Chinese engineer who committed suicide, Mimi was raised with a strong work ethic, and as she grows older, she realizes that she wants to honor her father by protecting the trees that she sees across the street from her office. His last project is one that will allow players to devise ways to save the natural world through ingenuity, experiment, and verve. She becomes a renowned psychologist (under a pseudonym), pioneering a completely silent form of therapy. Many of the main characters are associated with a specific tree. Margaret Atwood stated, “If Powers were an American writer of the 19th century, which writer would he be? Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Study Guide of “The Overstory” by Richard Powers. The Overstory has a … Time passes and though Ray is content, Dorothy is restless and begins having an affair. He had a “religious conversion”—not in the theistic sense, he has explained, but one that left him breathless as to how he had never really noticed the trees around him before. After joining forces with Doug, she moves to the Northwest. The Overstory might be a good book, and it might be a bad book. At the beginning of the novel, Olivia is a college student almost ready to graduate,... Nick Hoel (Watchman). Copyright © 1999 - 2020 GradeSaver LLC. Patricia is invited to speak to a conference of the world’s most prominent people. The Overstory Characters Richard Powers This Study Guide consists of approximately 87 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Overstory. A charming reporter who interviews Neelay about his projects. As a young man, Adam had a somewhat tempestuous life: his father was abusive, his mother called him “slow,” his siblings were fickle with him, and he was treated poorly by classmates who were derisive towards his “differences.” He turned his attention to the natural world as a child (his father planted a tree for each sibling, and his was a beloved maple), and then became captivated by psychology as a high school student when he came across a book about humans’ cognitive biases. Richard Powers' The Overstory (2018) is an ambitious, profound novel with an urgent environmental message. When he becomes distressed about the mulberry tree dying, he takes his own life. He encourages her to write a book, which becomes The Secret Forest, a work of science but also of striking poetry and intimacy. The Overstory follows nine characters who all in various ways and to varying degrees come to understand the importance of trees. He is the one who begins the family legacy of taking pictures of the chestnut tree and how it changes over time. She is patient and loving in ways she never was in their youth, and together the two of them find meaning in each other and the natural world. resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel. But to add to this environmental drama, that’s going to be a marvelous task and a great source of meaning for the writers of the future.”, Upon release, Powers' book was met with critical acclaim. His father sends him before the Chinese Communists establish a foothold, giving him three precious rings and an ancient scroll of the Arhats to take with him. She takes the tree name "Mulberry" because her father planted a mulberry tree in their yard. In the novel, Richard Powers refers to many save-the-trees efforts around the globe, including the Chipko Andolan in the 1970s in the Himalayan region of India.

the overstory characters

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