The Garden of Brazil: "Leiningen Versus the Ants"

Essay by anarkichikHigh School, 10th grade May 2006

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One occurrence known to many is that of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God created the world perfect--without sin and in that world He placed Adam and Eve. In the garden with Adam and Eve, were many trees and animals. All of the trees were good to eat besides one, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God warned Adam and Eve not to eat of that tree. When Adam and Eve chose to disobey God's warning, they were cast out of the Garden with sinful nature into an imperfect world.

After God created the world, "...God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good...". (Genesis 1:31, NKJ) Good is referring to its perfect state--free from the interactions of sinful beings. In the garden were many trees, but one in particular stood out--the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

God said, "'Of every tree... you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat...'" (Genesis 2:16-17, NKJV) Also, in this Garden were many beasts, but of all the beasts, "the serpent was more cunning...". (Genesis 3:1, NKJV) And the cunning beast, the serpent, came to Eve tempting her, telling her the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was good to eat. Eve partook of the fruit and, having done so, shared with Adam. Adam took and also ate. After God found out, He cast them into the darkness, out of the light of His presence. With out the light, all is misery, but in the darkness, one may hope to acquire a relation with God, restoring some light. Leiningen Versus the Ants is extremely similar to this story.

Leiningen Versus the Ants by Carl Stephenson tells the story of a vain farmer, Leiningen, who risks his life and the lives of his workers to save his farm. This story is an allegory for the occurrence in the Garden of Eden. The plantation represents the Garden of Eden and the other animals in the area are the other trees in the Garden. The Brazilian official is God warning Adam and Eve while Leiningen's workers, the natives from the land, are Adam and he is Eve. The outcome, the devastation of the plantation, is to be compared to the world to which Adam and Eve were cast. To start to understand this allegory, we must first examine the plantation on which Leiningen and his workers farmed.

The plantation is a representation of the Garden of Eden. As the plantation was "perfect", in the mind of Leiningen, so was the Garden of Eden. Leiningen asserts this belief to the Brazilian official saying, "'When I began this model farm... I took into account all that could conceivably happen to it. And now I'm ready for anything...'". This quote was made in response to the Brazilian official's warning.

The Brazilian official is a replica of God's warning to Adam. God told Adam not to eat of the forbidden fruit lest he meet certain fate. Like this, the Brazilian official warned Leiningen of foredooming danger. To begin his warning, the official tries to convey the frightening aspects of the ants. He does this by saying, "'They're not creatures you can fight...every single one of them a fiend from hell.'" He was trying to scary Leiningen into leaving immediately. When Leiningen didn't respond dramatically, he continued with an example of the strength of the ants. "'...if you don't clear out at once there'll be nothing left of you but a skeleton picked... clean...'". Again, he was trying to frighten Leiningen into leaving. Finally, when the official is leaving, he again tries to warn Leiningen. He yells. "'You don't know them, I tell you! You don't know them!'" This is imploring at a fear of the uncertain, but it doesn't work. Leiningen would still be threatened by the ants. The ants could have gone for any other area, but they chose this plantation. This is similar to the serpent. He could have enticed to any other tree, but he chose the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The ants from the story are the serpent. They bring fear and destruction in their wake. They also cause the devastation of the plantation. As displayed in the warnings concerning the ants made by the official, they had a reputation for destruction and brought fear in the common heart. Also, in the attempts to ward off the ants during their "attack", Leiningen consumed most of his resources, scattered the ground with petrol, and flooded most of his plantation with water. Once the ants had been defeated, the plantation was left in a state of ruin. After Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, as offered to her by the serpent, she and Adam were cast into the world of darkness. Noteworthy were the other trees in the Garden, the serpent could have tempted Eve to take of the fruit of another tree, but he did not. Just as there were choices for the serpent there were choices for the ants. The ants chose the plantation, but they could have chosen the other animals in the area. Therefore, the other animals are the other trees in the Garden. Don't forget, Leiningen had a role in this all.

Leiningen is our model for Eve. He heard warning, disregarded it, and knowingly made the wrong decision. He just barely made out for his life to. Eve also heard a warning. She was told not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. She disregarded it when she took of the fruit when tempted by the serpent; she knew she had made the wrong decision. Eve just barely "made out" as well. She was thrown into a world of darkness, but she still had the ability to commune with God, indirectly. Leiningen's workers, were like Adam. They followed him, knowing the doom they faced, but they followed orders all the same.

Finally, the outcome of the battle between the ants and Leiningen and the outcome of Eve and Adam's eating of the fruit was comparably similar. In Leiningen Versus the Ants, Leiningen comes out barely living. Also, the plantation had been devastated, almost beyond repair. In the story of Adam and Eve, Adam and Eve are sent into a state of darkness where they're only hope is through their indirect relationship with God and God's blessings. The garden was blockaded from humans, never to be enjoyed again. Through all of this evidence, we may assert that Leiningen Versus the Ants is an comparable to the happening at Eden many years before.

Through the evidence, we may ascertain that Leiningen Versus the Ants is even an allegory for the story of Adam and Eve. We know this through looking at the plantation, Eden, the other animals in the area, the other trees in the Garden, the Brazilian official, God's warning, the natives, Adam, Leiningen, Eve, the Ants, the serpent, and the outcome of the farm, the fate of Adam and Eve.