Novel Comments

10 Sep

In her 2012 novel Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver tells of the personal journey of her heroine, Dellarobia, as she grows toward mature flight behavior against the background of the disrupted flight behavior of Monarch butterflies.

At the novel’s start, Dellarobia, feeling trapped in her small town and in her marriage, is on the way to running away by way of an affair. As she goes to meet her lover, she sees an unexpected sight, the arrival of off-course migrating Monarch butterflies. She reads a personal message into their appearance that helps her realize the terrible hurt her flight would cause herself and her family. She returns home. The Monarchs’ flight pattern has disrupted her own.

A specialist in Monarchs comes to town to try to understand their new migratory behavior. From him, she learns that global warming has caused the Monarchs to fly to a place where they can not survive. Their flight behavior will result in their extinction. In contrast, Dellarobia learns how to leave her marriage and town in a way that can eventually be better for everyone, including herself.

Humans have choice and Dellarobia will be all right. But butterflies don’t have choice and the planet is still in trouble.

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