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We’re hopelessly stalled in car culture

Between the two of them, Yvonne Abraham and her subject give us a stunning anthropological insight (“Putting on the brakes,” Metro, May 17). She brings us Nancy Lawton, 77, who has given up her driver’s license — a “blow,” Abraham writes, “as monumental as losing her husband 25 years ago.” She has lost her “independence,” her “lifetime of liberty behind the wheel.” Lawton herself laments, “You can’t be spontaneous. You lose control.”

Although Lawton is healthy and lives near public transportation, Abraham is not tempted to explore the world that could be opening up to her, or the health benefits of a lot more walking. Instead, her tragic tone trumpets poor Lawton’s loss of selfhood, and writes that “her car has been bound up with who she is.”

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Anybody concerned with climate change who reads this column may well wonder whether cars can ever be detached from American identity. Anthropologists coming across Abraham’s column someday will have a good laugh, if humans are still around.

Kitty Beer

Cambridge

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