Analysis of “Top of the food chain” short story “The thing was, we had a little problem with the insects… ” The narrator’s tone in ‘Top of the Food Chain” is immediately apparent as self-serving, prioritizing personal comfort over the consequences of choices on the environment. T. Coraghessan Boyle’s story goes beyond simply sharing the mistakes of a selfish individual. The tone employed by the narrator serves to explore the theme that humans do not always occupy the highest position on the food chain.
From the start, the narrator is depicted as a self-serving individual. In a position of authority over a team delivering medical assistance to a village in a developing country, his decisions aimed at “enhancing” the well-being of the villagers ultimately result in devastating the local ecosystem. This process begins with the contamination of flies, leading to the poisoning of geckos, subsequent elimination of cats, consequent rise in rat population, and ultimately leading to the transmission of diseases to humans and decimation of crops.
The primary method T. Coraghessan Boyle employs to convey his message is the narrator’s condescending attitude towards these incidents. The narrator presumes a superior position in the hierarchy and exhibits no qualms about eliminating weaker species. Unfortunately, the narrator fails to recognize that by harming the lower elements of the food chain, he ultimately inflicts harm upon himself. Furthermore, the narrator asserts that “No one could have predicted the repercussions – absolutely no one.”
The portrayal of the narrator by the author indicates that he is apathetic towards anything except his own desires. The narrator’s arrogance and conviction in his capability to act without facing any consequences demonstrate his belief in being superior to others. However, he eventually realizes the painful lesson that his self-centered actions ultimately damage himself. T. Coraghessan Boyle uses this tone to convey the idea that the food chain might not be a straightforward hierarchy, but rather a circular system.