Annie Dillard's Thoughts About the Fact that Nature is a Source of Strength

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Nature can be a therapist, for example, walking in the woods, listening to the leaves agitating themselves in the breeze, a sense of seclusion and tranquility can be gained; nature can also be destructive, for instance, floods, hurricane and avalanche deprive thousands of lives. In 1979, at the sight of a total eclipse, Annie Dillard has learned about the unpredictability and strong power of nature, thus emphasizing the significance of communication to create something new for the world in order to overcome the fear. By reflecting on her inner fear and the power of nature, demonstrating the imagery of old-time movies and creating metaphor of “wake up”“dolphin” and “bucket and shovel”,Dillard successfully persuades people to “wake up ” and utilize the power of communication.

Annie Dillard bolsters her opinions that nature is full of power and unknown with her specific word choice. Dillard begins by presenting the road to the destination of viewing the eclipse. She describes what she is going through is “dying” and “whimpering”, which spreads negative feelings and characterizes an atmosphere of horror. In doing so, she shows that her minds are dominated by fears, unprepared for how to react for the eclipse. Affected by her anxious feelings, readers will also tremble by the strange atmosphere and be curious about what will happen in the next. Then Dillard shifts her focus from the path to eclipse to the hotel lobby. Featured as “dark”, “derelict”, the hotel lobby strengthens the feeling of mystery that Dillard receives. What strikes the readers’ eyes is the antechamber to the hell, where the painting of crown looks ominous and is full of strange people. In arousing people’s scare, the author implies that this journey is destined to be unusual. After that, Dillard moves to describe how the sun slowly came up. By portraying the change from “lusterless yellow” to “empty sky”, the process of eclipse comes out of paper, from the sun’s clearing the clouds to its going away. During this process, the author was so impressed by the nature, for even if she has learned about the eclipse before, the theory and words cannot explain what she saw. With those words the author selects, she successfully conveys her fear and awe towards this spectacle, promoting readers to understand the strong power of nature that words cannot express and paving the way for her changes of perception.

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Dillard further describes what she sees as the imagery that she is watching the movie filmed in the middle-age, where everything is “platinum” ”metallic” and “matte”, which seems detached from the reality. It is described that everything backs in time, slow fading away to the origin of civilization, the time when human beings were not armed with basic science knowledge. The distorted time indicates that Dillard is the same as those who in the premier time, regarding the eclipse as a sacred signal and coming up with nothing to deal with the fear towards it. After reading the description, readers feel that nothing is weirder than this phenomenon, along with imaginary screaming, lost memory of everything that had happened and they cannot help drawing the picture that Dillard is pushed to the rim of universe, losing her direction and passing away. Thus, they come to realize the misery power of nature. Also, Dillard overlaps the imagery with the repetition of “wrong” and “dead” in order to foreshadow her changing views towards eclipse, which is mentioned in the later. When she sees grasses and faces, her repeating of “wrong” not only indicates what she sees is different from reality, but points out that there is limiting words to express her feeling. Stepping further, she imagines that she is pressed by the nature to the edge of death so as to emphasize the insignificance of human beings when confronting the nature. The readers, in return, resonates with the hopeless lost in readers’ minds, forced to feel terrified and believe that they merely have pony power compared to that of nature that can summon people to leave from the reality.

Sticking in the confusing state, Dillard then “wakes up” from the chaos in her mind by evoking the metaphor of “dolphin” “life saver” and “bucket and shovel”. Dragging herself from living like a death, the author is alarmed by “life saver” of the college student, when the importance of words suddenly triggers her mind. By comparing to her imagery film in the old time, when people believed only God could save them from being scared off, the author successfully connects the “God” to the reality----communication. The author’s inspiration begins as “like many will-less dolphins, we plunge the surface, lapse and emerge”, which is used to assimilate people’s routine that they always immerse in their personal universe. However, even though emerging for thousands of time, what people perceive is just part of the world so that they tend to immerse in the fear brought by their partial views. Through this metaphor, the author vividly persuades the readers to involve in sharing experience with others and therefore think of problems from a brand new perspective. The audience, after experiencing the fear brought by unpredictable nature, tend to understand the importance of not isolating themselves in their own minds. Later, the author mentions “bucket and shovel” to represent the means of conveying people’s words. It is usual that buckets and shovels are used to dig out the sands and shells and build up castles by children, so they stands for the access for people to acquire their wealth---- perceptions. Also, as children might dig out different kinds of shells, people harbor various views towards the world. As a result, the author wants to reclaim that the participation of sharing words and experience is needed. Writing down her inspiration drawn from the eclipse and specifying the abstract concept she wants to convey, the author force the readers to agree on the necessity of joining the words and activities.

By diffusing the fear and waking up the minds of people to share their experience and thoughts, the author sets up the model for those who wants to enhance others’ participation in the society. The audience, through the words reflecting fear, description of imaginary movies and implicit meaning of “wake up” “dolphin” and “bucket and shovel” , consider the passage as plot-twisting as taking the roller coaster. What is different from the eclipse is that while the sun is slowly covered by the shadow, the audience can finally walk through the cloud of mist to realize that the only way to save people from the unknown and unpredictability is sharing words.

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Annie Dillard’s Thoughts About the Fact that Nature is a Source of Strength. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 16, 2024, from
“Annie Dillard’s Thoughts About the Fact that Nature is a Source of Strength.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022,
Annie Dillard’s Thoughts About the Fact that Nature is a Source of Strength. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 16 Jul. 2024].
Annie Dillard’s Thoughts About the Fact that Nature is a Source of Strength [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 15 [cited 2024 Jul 16]. Available from:

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