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Heaven and earth in jest essay about myself 5 stars based on 51 reviews. For Thoreau it is human society; for Dillard it is the divine. Although Dillard enjoys observing nature for its own sake and wants to understand how it works, she is driven to figure out what it may reveal about God. The observation and the quest thus represent the physical and the metaphysical.
Dillard proposes a question she hopes the book will answer: is the world random, or is there a god? We're thinking she's a deep sleeper. She doesn't have the cat anymore, but she still wakes expectantly. She lives beside a creek in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains it's called—wait for it—Tinker Creek , and she wakes up every day "hoping to see a new thing. She loves the mountains because they're "restful" and "absorbent," so while she loves Tinker Creek, she considers the mountains her home.
A thing said or done for amusement; a joke. Connotes that it is all for amusement, and not actually serious. Shows that they may be friends 4. Heaven and earth 5. What could this contrast, figuratively, mean? During the marriage, Dillard finished her undergraduate degree in English literature and completed a master's. Later, she would use Walden as the model for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. For the next few years, Dillard painted, wrote poetry, read widely, volunteered at local community agencies, and kept extensive journals of her observations and thoughts.
In , she turned those journals into Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, working as many as fifteen hours a day to complete the manuscript. She described the process of writing the book in The Writing Life Individual chapters of Pilgrim were published as essays in influential magazines, and when the full book was published in , it was an immediate success.
The book won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. At the time, Annie Dillard was just thirty years old. She eventually divorced Dillard and, in , married writer Gary Clevidence. Over the past quarter century, Dillard has published eight more books, including a novel, two collections of poetry, and several nonfiction volumes.
These books have been well received, but Dillard is still known primarily as the author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. She married another professor and writer, Robert D. Richardson Jr. The narrator reports that she was in the habit of sleeping naked in front of an open window, and the cat would use that window to return to the house at night after hunting.
In the morning, the narrator would awaken to find her body "covered with paw prints in blood; I looked as though I'd been painted with roses. Dillard insistently presents the natural world as both beautiful and cruel, like the image of roses painted in blood. She demonstrates throughout the book that to discover nature, one must actively put oneself in its way. The narrator sleeps naked, with the windows open, to put no barriers between herself and the natural world.
But the natural world is a manifestation of God, and it is God she is really seeking to understand through the book. Dillard introduces the theme of religion as the narrator washes the bloodstains off her body, wondering whether they are "the keys to the kingdom or the mark of Cain.
The book's structure is loosely chronological, moving from January to December. But Dillard freely uses memories from other seasons and other years. I explore the neighborhood," the narrator says, explaining both her method and her purpose. Chapter Two: "Seeing" The ten sections of chapter two all explore the question of what it means to really see. The narrator explains how she has trained herself to see insects in flight, hidden birds in trees, and other common occurrences in nature that most people miss because the events are too small or happen too quickly.
She spends hours on a log watching for muskrats and brings home pond water to study under a microscope. In a long passage, she tells about patients who benefitted from the first cataract operations, and their difficulties in trying to see with their eyes after a lifetime of blindness. As the narrator contemplates different ways of seeing, she realizes, "I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam.
Down by the creek, the narrator watches a coot and thinks about the frogs and turtles asleep under the mud. Her forays outside are shorter, and she spends evenings in front of the fireplace reading books about travel and about nature. Her only companions are a goldfish named Ellery Channing after a friend of Henry David Thoreau and the spiders that are allowed "the run of the house. She has learned to recognize praying mantis egg cases in the wild, and she has brought one home and tied it to a branch near her window so she can observe the hatching.
In the cold of February, she thinks about June and the steadiness of insects and the seeming fixedness of the stars. Chapter Five: "Untying the Knot" This short chapter takes its title from a snake skin the narrator finds in the woods. The skin appears to be tied in a knot, continuous, as the seasons are "continuous loops.
Surprisingly, as the chapter opens, the narrator is at a gas station on an interstate highway, talking with the station attendant. But it is not the conversation that is important; rather, the narrator focuses on a beagle puppy, whose fur she rubs as she sips her coffee.
For a moment, she feels entirely alive: "This is it, I think, this is it, right now, the present, this empty gas station here, this western wind, this tang of coffee on the tongue, and I am patting the puppy, I am watching the mountain. She affirms her intention to push away connections with cities, with people. The flowing creek is new every second, and it is in the creek that grace can be found. Chapter Seven: "Spring" Spring unfolds through April and May, and the narrator has missed spring's beginning.
Plants are greening and flowering, and hibernating animals are reappearing. The narrator feels an urgency to examine every creature quickly before summer comes and they begin to decay and devour each other. Chapter Eight: "Intricacy" This chapter contains more meditation than anecdote. In June, the narrator ponders the smallest things—red blood cells in a goldfish's tail, blooming plankton, the horsehair worm, molecules, and atoms.
In the intricacy of the universe, she finds confirmation of God's presence and plan: "Beauty itself is the fruit of the creator's exuberance that grew such a tangle. This chapter, which opens with the first day of summer, describes an actual flooding of Tinker Creek and its effects on the landscape, the animals, and the narrator's human neighbors.
It is among the most consistently narrative chapters of the book. The rising water brings with it a flood of emotions and thoughts, leaving the narrator feeling "dizzy, drawn, mauled. Of course, these creatures are so prolific because they must be: of a million fish eggs laid, only a few will survive to hatch. As she watches fish, she thinks about fish as an ancient symbol for Christ and for the spirit.
In a long passage, she describes how she has spent years learning to stalk muskrats. But stalking animals is not the end in itself: "You have to stalk the spirit, too. She takes a sleeping bag and a sandwich to spend a night outside.
As she watches the sunset and listens to the night sounds, she thinks, "this is my city, my culture, and all the world I need. In the natural world, creatures eat one another or die of other causes. The chapter title refers to altars used for sacrifices in the Old Testament of the Judeo-Christian Bible. Animals to be sacrificed would be tied to "horns," or rising side pieces, so that they would be suspended above burning coals.
The narrator is aware of herself as a potential sacrifice, as eventual food for maggots and parasites. Watching butterflies and geese migrating south, she wishes to go north, to find a place where the wind and the view will be unimpeded, where she can find an austere simplicity. She believes that stillness will open her up to the presence of God.
The narrator wanders through the brown landscape following a bee and reflecting on the year that has passed. The chapter title refers to ceremonial water used in the Old Testament for purifying the unclean. For Dillard, Tinker Creek flows with "the waters of beauty and mystery" and also with the waters of separation.
In contemplating the natural world, she approaches God but separates herself from other people and from the things of this world. She drinks of this water willingly and with thanks. Key Figures The Narrator Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is written in the first person; that is, the narrator continually refers to herself as "I.
In fact, an early draft of the manuscript was set in New England and was narrated by a young man. For Dillard, the identity of the speaker was not central to her explorations. The narrator of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, then, may more properly be thought of as a persona than as Dillard herself.
Few biographical details can be discerned about the narrator. She is well-educated and has read widely, and she spends most of her time alone, closely observing the natural world.
She seems to have no daily responsibilities or occupations, but has the time and the patience to spend hours alone in one place watching the light changing or a duck eating.
She once had a cat, but she does not mention any family, and she does not seek the company of other humans except for an occasional evening game of pinochle with unnamed friends. No other person plays a significant role in the book. A "pilgrim" may be merely a person who travels, but more commonly the word is used to describe someone who travels to a holy place.
For the narrator, the creek itself is as sacred as a church; it is here that she encounters God's grace in its purest form: "So many things have been shown me on these banks, so much light has illumined me by reflection here where the water comes down, that I can hardly believe that this grace never flags. Throughout the book, Dillard balances the seemingly opposing forces of heaven and Earth, of God as the creator of beauty and of horror.
Much of the imagery in the book is of the beauty and complexity of nature, reflecting God's grace. In every sunset, every egg case, every snake skin, the narrator sees God's generosity. But at times, reading about a praying mantis that has devoured her mate or contemplating hoards of parasites, she rails against the cruelties of nature, asking, "What kind of a world is this, anyway?
Dillard has carefully studied the Bible, as demonstrated by the many biblical quotations and allusions throughout the book. But essential to Dillard's vision is the belief that the natural world is also a vehicle for spiritual insight. Just as the narrator has had to train herself to stalk wild animals to be in their presence, so she must also stalk God, seeking Him out where He is and as He is. Individual and Society A recurring idea in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is the narrator's belief that she must choose between embracing nature and embracing human society.
In fact, she does not seem to have close ties with any living humans. She alludes occasionally to playing baseball or pinochle—games that cannot be played in solitude—but she never names her companions. She is aware of neighborhood boys, and she knows the names of the people who own the property along Tinker Creek and of those who are endangered by the flood.
But there is no strong feeling, positive or negative, expressed in any of her human contacts. While a puppy or a sunrise can leave her breathless, people do not. The reading is by Barbara Rosenblat. Another unabridged edition on audiocassette, read by Grace Conlin, was produced by Blackstone Audio Books in Her isolation is both inevitable and intentional.
In the fourth section I begin with the progression of my journey and end with a related story. The story of the boy decorating the tree may seem abrupt at first, but it reinforces my theme of triumphing over seemingly daunting new tasks. In the fifth section I illustrate the connection between my friends' feeling of being lost and the novice crew team's similar feeling.
In the last section I return to the subject of moving backwards, contrasting rowing to running. I conclude by repeating Claudia's quote, but backwards, tying in both my themes of language and backwards life.Pilgrim at Tinker Writer Study Essay. In Course Hero. Accessed June 19, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek Chapter 1 : Heaven and Earth in Jest Summary Share Click to copy Summary Although this chapter is and civil engineering assignment help January, Dillard begins with a memory of hot summer nights when her scrappy heaven would leap through the window of her house. Metatron legs essay writing she would awaken covered with jest paw prints as if she had "been painted with roses. Set between the ever-changing creek and the restful permanence earth the mountains, the house functions for Dillard in a way similar to an anchorite's, or recluse's, hermitage.
This exercise helped me to create a logical storyline base. What were the new advancements in science? It may require us to abandon the notion of the sanctity of the "individual" above all else. Radford provides an overview of Dillard's career and of the central issues addressed by critics of her work, followed by an annotated bibliography of nearly two hundred of the most important primary and secondary works. The ultimate pattern of the universe—whatever it may be—seems to insist on such a dissolution.