Silent Spring

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Rachel Carson

The author of Silent Spring, and an important figure in modern American environmentalism. Her work is often credited with spurring the movement that led to the creation of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and… (read full character analysis)

Alfred Koebele

An entomologist-explorer who traveled to South America in search of a predator for the cottony cushion scale that threatened California citrus. He returned in 1888 with the vedalia beetle, a successful example of biotic control… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Paul Shepard
An American environmentalist whose writings urged a return to ancient relationship to the natural world. He was an influential figure in the development of the deep ecology movement.
Dr. W.C. Hueper
An early pioneer in occupational medicine, he researched the effects of environmental agents on the development of cancer.
Gerhard Schrader
A German chemist who specialized in developing new insecticides to increase production and decrease hunger in the world. His discoveries also led to the development of nerve gas used as a weapon in World War II.
Professor Rolf Eliassen
A professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who testified before a congressional committee on the unknown composite effects of chemicals mingled together in streams.
The Borgias
An infamous dynastic family from the Italian Renaissance, many of whom became Popes, and who were widely believed to have engaged in poisoning to combat rival families.
Justice William O. Douglas
A Supreme Court Justice who holds the record for the longest term in history at nearly 37 years. He was a lifelong advocate for environmental issues and wrote a glowing review of Carson’s book upon its publication.
John Mehner
A graduate student at Michigan State University who, along with his adviser Professor George Wallace, documented the effects of spraying for Dutch elm disease on robin populations on campus.
Owen J. Gromme
The curator of Birds at the Milwaukee Public Museum.
Charles Broley
A retired banker from Winnipeg who achieved ornithological fame after banding more than 1,000 eagles on the coast of Florida from 1939-49.
Dr. James DeWitt
A researcher for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service whose work with DDT predicted the chemical’s impact on the fertility of eggs of birds exposed to it.
Dr. Philip Butler
A member of the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries.
Robert Cushman Murphy
A world-famous ornithologist who sought an injunction against DDT spraying on Long Island in 1957.
Dr. Otis Poitevint
A veterinarian from Bainbridge, Georgia who voiced concerns during the massive insecticide campaign against fire ants in the American South.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is a federal agency tasked with overseeing the safety of food; they have jurisdiction over goods that are trafficked via interstate commerce.
Eugene Rabinowitz
A chemist cited by Carson in relation to his research into energy production on a cellular level.
Sir Percivall Pott
A physician in eighteenth century London who first proposed the link between environmental agents – soot, in the case of chimney sweeps – and cancer.
Dr. Malcolm Hargraves
A doctor in the Hematology Department at the Mayo Clinic who reported links between blood disease and exposure to toxic chemicals, including DDT.
Professor Otto Warburg
A German biochemist at the Max Planck Institute of Cell Physiology who studied cell oxidation and proposed one potential origin for cancer.
Charles Darwin
An English naturalist and geologist from the nineteenth century whose theories of evolution and natural selection, proposed in his book On the Origin of Species, revolutionized our understanding of biology.
Dr. Charles Elton
A British scientist specializing in the study of animal populations.
Dr. Briejer
Director of the Plant Protection Service in Holland who urged that pesticides be used cautiously after observing that insect populations were growing increasingly resistant to the chemicals.
Robert Frost
An iconic American writer whose poetry is often set in rural parts of the Northeast. Carson makes reference to his famous poem “The Road Not Taken.”
Dr. Edward Knipling
Chief of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Entomology Research Branch. He developed the male sterilization technique for pest control.
Dr. A.D. Pickett
A scientist who Rachel Carson highlight as a pioneer of natural methods of pest control, as well as precisely applied, gentler chemical pesticides. He denounces indiscriminate spraying, describing it as a route to crisis after crisis.