Woven Together: The Deep Connection Between Nature and People

“‘Some people see scars and it is wounding they remember. To me they are proof of the fact that there is healing.’” (125). 

Land and people are more connected than one thinks, especially when they are both hurting. In her 1994 novel Solar Storms, Linda Hogan explores this idea through her protagonist Angel. By telling the story of Angel, a young Native American woman trying to escape the demons of her past, Hogan sheds light on trauma caused by years of outside interference. Showcasing her renowned writing skills, Hogan takes this idea one step further, exploring the setting and the trauma it too endures. As Adam’s Rib adapts to its years of damage, so does Angel.  As the two key players in the novel face emotional triggers throughout the novel, readers began to see the line between the two stories blur. Hogan masterfully weaves the two narratives together, utilizing the lens of hurt and trauma to reveal the interconnectedness of nature and its people. 


    Angel’s trauma does not stem from the memory of her childhood, but rather the lack thereof. After being abused and nearly killed by her mother Hannah at a young age, Angel is placed in the Oklahoma foster care system. With nothing but a scar on her face to remind her of her past, Angel has no recollection of her childhood in Adam’s Rib. Because of this, her trauma stems from the unknown. However, as the women of Adam’s Rib tell Angel stories about her and their people’s collective past, it is revealed that the young girl’s trauma is much more than not knowing her past.

    Hogan acts as detective, tracing the root cause of Angel’s trauma. In the novel, italicized text acts as an omnipresent figure, telling the story of Angel’s family and how years of abuse brought them where they are today. During these portions of the story, removed yet very important, readers learn that Angel’s trauma is a result of years of abuse the women in her family faced, dating back two generations. 

Loretta smelled of… cyanide…She was from the Elk Islanders, the people who became so hungry they ate the poisoned carcasses of deer that the settlers left out for the wolves. The starving people ate the bait” (38).

Angel’s grandmother Loretta and her people are directly affected by colonizers who completely deplete the community’s resources. Seeing her land destroyed and her body growing frail, Loretta greatly suffers. This is common for Native people of the time as they see their homes and everything they worked hard for taken from them in a flash. This shock causes trauma, leaving the people fearful of what may happen next. In addition to this hurt, Loretta is also “taken and used by men who fed her and beat her and forced her”, a part of her life she will never forget, nor her family as they too face the repercussions (39). 

Adam’s Rib: 

Connecting land to people, Hogan also explores how trauma can affect setting. Much like Angel, Adam’s Rib displays scars from the very same people who abused its people. The small town is a place where “land and water had joined together in an ancient pact, now broken” (21). Many groups of people have passed through Adam’s Rib, each partaking in the destruction of the beautiful land. After years of this abuse, the setting has changed and is metaphorically traumatized because of it. 

Much like Angel when she returns home, Adam’s Rib must face its trauma head on when news of a new dam’s construction breaks. Already broken, scared, and never the same, the land must face new change, this time brought on by the government. 

“The first [flood]… killed many thousands of caribou and flooded land the people lived on and revered. The caribou and geese were affected, as well as the healing plants the people needed (56-57).

This passage shows the damage the land has already endured. Due to years of outside interference, ironically at the hands of colonizers once again, Adam’s Rib’s surrounding land, the James Bay region, has become susceptible to lethal flooding, killing its animals and vital plants. Unfortunately, the only way to fix this problem is to destroy the land even more and build dams, a traumatizing undertaking for Adam’s Rib. 

Woven Together: 

    It is no coincidence that both Angel and Adam’s Rib suffer from trauma. Hogan places human life and nature on one pedestal in this novel, showing how connected the two truly are. The land Angel steps on has a rich history. The people that walked on the same ground as her come together to tell a collective story of Native people. In the Native culture, land is sacred. Because of this, when nature hurts, so do the people. This is apparent in the trauma both Angel and Adam’s Rib face. Despite the novel (and this essay) recounting two separate stories, one a young girl fighting her demons and the other of a land growing increasingly damaged, it tells a greater tale of the human connection to nature. If read between the lines, the two narratives are not that different. Angel deals with trauma from years of generational hurt in her family and Adam’s Rib wears scars of decades of damage. And as the two adapt and grow throughout the novel, readers see them helping each other out. Angel fights for the protection and preservation of the land as Adam’s Rib provides clarity to all of the protagonists’ unanswered questions. Without each other, there would be no hope, a fact Hogan wants all readers to know. 

 Nature and its people share a deep connection that breaks the boundaries of physical form. Evident in Solar Storms, land and people are reliant on each other. Without one, there would not be the other. As readers become privy to  the scars that Angel and Adam’s Rib bear, they see how they each play an important role in the other’s existence and overall story. In times of hurt, life becomes foggy, but Solar Storms reminds readers of the simple and beautiful connection they have with nature, as “Our beginnings [are] intricately bound up in the history of the land” (80). 

Work Cited

Hogan, Linda. Solar Storms. Scribner, 1995.

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