Leiningen Vs. The Ants

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade December 2001

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Leiningen, an owner of a coffee plantation that meant everything to him in the 1900's goes through a major conflict in the story Leiningen Versus the Ants. Leiningen would go through almost anything, even immolation to save his plantation from the dreaded ants that he was forced to face in this suspenseful novel written by Carl Stephenson.

Leiningen truly believes he is an infallible man who can overcome anything the killer ants bring towards him. When the ants reach the general location of his plantation he doesn't feel the least bit threatened by them because of the defensive tactics he has set for them. Leiningen built a ditch surrounding his plantation that also connected to a river that was supposed to keep the ants away. It wasn't long before the deadly ants used leaves for rafts and sailed across the moat only to overcome Leiningen"˜s major defense. After Leiningen lost some of his workers from the invasion of the ants he realized that his dam obviously wasn't fufilling its meaning and he needed to fix it so he could then brilliantly flood the plantation to drown the ants.

Risking his life to repair the dam, he then had to solve the problem of how he would reach the destination which was nearly 2 miles from where he was and the land where he needed to travel was already surrounded by ants. He put on leather boots, heavy gauntlets over his hands, and stuffed all the spaces between him and his clothing with rags covered in petrol and he let the peons dump petrol all over the outsides of his outfit, which would kill any ants that came in contact with it. He had enough time to get to the dam, and fix it but then was attacked by the man eating bugs that began to eat him down to the bone. He accomplished his goal and flooded the plantation, ruining everything that meant anything to him. He was now very sick but was soon accompanied by the peons to nursed him back to health.

The author wanted us to realize that the theme of this story was that humans shouldn't underestimate the power of nature. Leiningen underestimated the ants, although he felt he defeated them because he killed all of them, he really lost because he destroyed his whole plantation so he could feel the power of victory.