The Sixth Extinction


Elizabeth Kolbert

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Grotte des Combarelles Symbol Analysis

Grotte des Combarelles Symbol Icon

There aren’t very many symbols in The Sixth Extinction. However, Kolbert has an interesting habit of ending each chapter with a symbolically loaded image. At the end of Chapter 12, Kolbert visits the Grotte des Combarelles, a prehistoric cave in France, which leads her to realize how “mad” ancient human beings must have been to explore the world. In this way, the cave symbolizes the drive and mad ambition of the human species—qualities which have led human beings to colonize the entire world.

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Grotte des Combarelles Symbol Timeline in The Sixth Extinction

The timeline below shows where the symbol Grotte des Combarelles appears in The Sixth Extinction. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 12: The Madness Gene
Mass-extinction and Morality Theme Icon
Natural Selection and Mass-extinction Theme Icon
Environmental Change and Human Nature Theme Icon
Science and Paradigm Shifts Theme Icon
On her last day in France, Kolbert visits another archeological site, Grotte des Combarelles . There, she enters a cave where human beings once lived—on the walls, there are... (full context)