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Jane Goodall

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Goodall, Jane. Through a Window. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990.

Jane Goodall's books, Through a Window, In the Shadow of Man, and The Chimpanzees of Gombe, recount her many years as an observer of chimpanzees and other species of monkeys. In Through a Window, she gives her account of thirty years with chimpanzees in the village of Gombe, off of Lake Tanganyika. During those thirty years with her son and husband, she observed and researched the chimpanzees with the help of other researchers. This book is a collection of the observations and data, in addition to the emotions she felt during this era. The theme of Through a Window is that chimpanzees have very human characteristics and feelings, and she proves this through her descriptions of love, war, power, and life in general.

The African community of Gombe remains the center of the events throughout the book. Goodall describes it as "peaceful" and "hauntingly beautiful" (Goodall 2). The monkeys are the main residents in this beautiful place, as they can suddenly take over any calmness or serenity that was once there. "Goblin abruptly sat up and, almost at once...instant pandemonium broke out." (Goodall 2). Many characters are born and die throughout the story, and their setting is always described, as if being compared to the eternalness of nature. "The field staff found Charlie's dead body lying near the Kahama Stream" (Goodall 106).

The characters in the story are very definite, being that the major ones have entire chapters devoted to their life story. These would include Melissa, Figan, Gilka, Gigi, Jomeo, and Goblin. Although these characters develop and change throughout the story, I feel that the more important development lies in the narrator, Jane Goodall. During the course of these thirty years, she has scientific as well as personal epiphanies. "I suggested that the chimpanzees probably passed their tool-using traditions from one generation to the next, through observations, imitation and practice..." (Goodall 19). She also empathizes with the female chimps in what it is like to be a mother.

Goodall uses surprisingly easy syntax and word choice throughout the book. Although she is very intelligent, she wanted an easy read for not only other scientists, but also for others wanting to learn more about chimps. The simple language also becomes part of the theme that monkeys are comparable to humans. She uses words that normally would describe a human child



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