Essay on Annie Dillard’s Personal Narrative 'Living Like Weasels'

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At some point along the way in our lifetime, we may take a step back and reflect on how we have been living our lives. Many people attempt to search for an answer to a very emotive question: how do we truly live our lives? Annie Dillard’s personal narrative entitled “Living Like Weasels” explores a way in which human beings should live. Her encounter with an ordinary weasel enabled her to gain insight into the difference between humans and weasels. They locked eyes for an instant in complete surprise, but following their instincts, the weasel fled. The aspect which prevents humans from living the purest life possible, which weasels retain, is our minds. While humans live by making choices to avoid risks and the fearful, weasels do not question and simply act by instinct. Dillard asserts that freedom of choice does not mean we are necessarily free. For that reason, we should learn from the tenacious creature and connect ourselves to live by intuition over our desires. Dillard demands us to aspire to a life where we embrace the present and cherish moments of surprise when there is no time to think, but just to react. A life reliant on instinct and present happiness rather than worrying about the future will reciprocate a fuller life. Typically, we do equate weasels as role models. However, the simplicity and unexpectedness of this animal within this context are what make Dillard’s argument convincing.

Annie Dillard’s narrative “Living Like Weasels” connects back to the American Dream. She understands both the constructed and natural world. Whereas the constructed world is built from human choice and consciousness, the natural world is unplanned and exists in unconsciousness. For those that live in America or come to America for the American Dream, their reality is ultimately a life focused on useless things and burdened with worries and struggles; this is something the hairy and ferocious specimen lacks. When Dillard immersed herself in the natural world, she experienced its inherent beauty and functionality of it. Humans could be free from the useless focuses, societal expectations, and norms -- which seize the splendor of the world -- like weasels if they discerned the value and adopted their instinctual way of life. Similar to what Thoreau experienced at Walden Pond, Dillard informs us to distance ourselves from mainstream society to “discover ourselves”. When we do not conform to the burdens of society and live relentlessly in pursuit of a passion that our instincts guide us towards, life becomes more meaningful. In essence, Dillard presents the weasel to compel us to simplify our process of decision-making and our lives. I agree with this because when I was younger, I mistook complexity for sophistication. However, simplicity is indeed a very sophisticated way to live because living in the moment and following my instincts feels truest and makes me happy.

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Essay on Annie Dillard’s Personal Narrative ‘Living Like Weasels’. (2023, April 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 16, 2024, from
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