Year of the Flood Steam Shuffle

Music is a key influence that has been imbedded into cultures all around the world and relate to emotions, dreams, and feelings that people have every day. Even in the most technology-ridden cultures, music and story come to light. This has been relevant for hundreds even thousands of years. Every day we hear music, whether it is on the radio, a jingle, or the humming of people around us. Music is so intertwined into the culture we have today that it is almost impossible to not hear some type of music each day. When reading “The Year of the Flood” by Margaret Atwood, I thought that I would have an extremely tough time trying to relate this story to a song that I listen to today. Then a few days ago, the song “A Country boy can survive” by Hank Williams Jr. Came onto my iPod on shuffle mode and it was perfect. His lyrics talk about living off the land and having friends from places other than your home. I thought this would be the perfects song to help me relate the evolutionary theme of Pleistocene instincts. Pleistocene instincts are the ability to survive off of the land by using just what you have on you, and not relying on technology or anything remotely modern to survive. The song lyrics state, I live back in the woods, you see a woman and the kids, and the dogs and me. I got a shotgun rifle and a 4 wheel drive. And a country boy can survive. These lyrics made me think back to the beginning of the book when Toby is alone on the rooftop with her rife, and had to shoot the animal going into the garden. The books states, “She squeezes off a round. Misses. Then tries again.” (18). I thought this was a perfect overlap between the song and the book because the two concepts are almost identical. Although using a shotgun is not so much using Pleistocene instincts, I thought the connection between the song and book was something that I had to share.

The lyrics also state, “the interest is up and the stock markets down, and you only get mugged if you go down town.” This made me think of the Pleebrat gangs and the gardeners being afraid of being mugged. “We were supposed to glean in groups, so we could defend ourselves against the pleebrat street gangs. (70) This concept of going down town and worrying about gang abuse was a key connection between the song and the book. When Relying on Pleistocene instincts, you have to try and avoid potential dangers. I believe the muggings in both the book and song were a good lyric to relay this concept.

Then the lyrics also state, “We grow good ole tomatoes and homemade wine, a country boy can survive.” This is what really made me think of Pleistocene instincts and having to rely off the land for survival just like the gardeners do. On page 11 of Year of the flood, it read, “by covering such barren rooftops with greenery we are doing our small part in the redemption of gods creation from the decay and sterility that lies around us, and feeding ourselves with unpolluted food into the bargain. (11) These Pleistocene instincts in the lyrics and book made the biggest connection for me between the song and the text. The whole book focuses mostly on the Gardeners and how they live off the land and create their own food using Pleistocene instincts. The song also in a way relates to that as well. It does this by portraying the life of country folk in how they rely on the land around them in order to survive without using the technology we have today we have come to know and love.

            The concept of using Pleistocene instincts to survive is a major evolutionary concept that has allowed Humans to overcome the obstacles we face when trying to survive. Both the Book “The Year of the Flood” by Margaret Atwood and the song “A country boy can survive” by Hank Williams Jr display the use of Pleistocene instincts when telling their stories. They have intertwining stories in a way that allows a reader or listener to compare them to each other. The use of Pleistocene instincts is key to survival, and is an evolutionary theme that can be related throughout both.

Margaret Atwood, “The Year of the Flood”.


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