She studied literature and creative writing and has wrote several books, novels and essays and even won the Pulitzer Price for “Pilgrim at the Creek”. Thus I think it was really interesting to read one of her shorter works “Living Like a Weasel”, a story in which Annie Dillard describes her magical unexpected encounter with a Weasel in six parts. Dillard starts out by directly pointing to the 'weasel topic' by introducing it with a short 4 word sentence “A weasel is wild”(Diyanni, p. 97).
She goes on with a question to get the readers' attention and let them be part of her journey, “Who knows what he thinks” (Diyanni, p. 97). A detailed description of a weasel's hunting habit follows. It almost come across as a beast in a horror movie and the adjectives intensify the mental image, “he bites his prey by the neck, either splitting the jugular vein at the throat or crunching the brain at the base of the skull”(Diyanni, p. 97). She uses the two comparisons of a rattle snake and a sticky label to enhance the image of the weasel that will never let go once it sunk its teeth in something.
The first part creates a negative image of a wild weasel. In the second part Dillard explains why she knows all the previous stated facts in the introduction because she recently saw a weasel. After she briefly mentions this fact she guides us in to her world away from civilization. “Hollis Pond, ... also called Murray's Pond”. Her description is again very detailed, such as including the number 6 two times, “With six inches of water and six thousand lily pads”.
Six is considered to be the most harmonious number, with “a loving and caring nature” (www. numerology. com) and underlines the cozy impression the reader gets when she describes the peaceful, to Dillard even magical pond, “from the distant shore they look like miracles itself, complete with miracle's nonchalance” (Diyanni, p. 98). Even though suburbia is a common term Dillard almost makes it seem like Hollis Pond is an own little world named suburbia, “This, mind you, suburbia” (Diyanni, p. 98), placed in the middle of civilization.
However when you are there you feel like you are in a completely different place, where nothing of the rest of the world is noticable. She even defines frontiers of her “suburbia”, “there is a 55 mph highway at one end of the pond, and a pair of nesting wood ducks at the other” (Diyanni, p. 100). Furthermore Dillard repeats the number five twice, “It is a five-minute walk”, “55mph highway”. The number five symbolizes dynamic and energy, it represents the life style of every day's life, that is mostly hectic and fast, people do not rest and take in the moment.
Dillard bans this hectic environment from her world, in which she is the queen. It seems like she is above it and sits on a throne-like bench, which is supported by several adjectives such as “upholstered bench”, “upper”, “plush jetty raised”,”watching the lily pads at my feet” (Diyanni, p. 99). Then all of a sudden she has an unexpected encounter with the weasel. Her upper dominant position is mentioned once more, “I was looking down at the weasel, who was looking up at me” (Diyanni, p. 99).
The third part of Dillard's essay begins with the description of the weasel. However it is not nearly as negative as it was in the beginning but rather positive, “thin as a curve, a muscled ribbon, brown as fruitwood, soft furred” (Diyanni, p. 99). Both, human and animal, exchange glances and hold eye-contact for several seconds. For Dillard it seems to be a magical moment as if the two have a mutual, unspoken understanding and goes on with emphasizing this for her extremely special meeting.
The weasel is the one to break off the eye contact, but Dillard tries to gain it again. This is the first clear moment where the theme wildness and necessity versus consciousness and choice comes up. For the weasel it was nothing special, it only checked if the human would harm it in any way. However due to the human's consciousness Dillard interprets a whole new meaning into this encounter, for a minute she was mentally connected with an wild animal. She even asks herself what a weasel might think and thus puts it on the same level as human.
Part four continues with the change that the unexpected meeting has caused in Dillard. It seems like her mind switched and experienced an eye-opener. Now Dillard is aware of the fact that she should live life to the fullest, just like the weasel does “I would like to live as I should” (Diyanni, p. 100), that she needs to change her previous life style, “I would like to live as I should” (Diyanni, p. 100). Part five begins with regrets that she has about her life, “I missed my chance”. The whole two paragraphs are marked with ways she could life.
She uses various metaphors and comparisons as if she was a weasel but those stylistic device do not necessarily explain how she wants to change her life style, but rather establishes the question of the social interaction and living with each other “Could two live under the wild rose...?... We could you know. ” She answers all questions in the second paragraph that she asked herself asked in the first, “ A weasel doesn't 'attack' anything; a weasel lives as he is meant to” (Diyanni, p. 101) The sixth and last part is about Dillard's conviction, that the weasel's life can be used as an example.
That you should free yourself from all consciousness and live in necessity, to open up and enjoy life, to put your inside and your feelings to the outside and strip down to the bones, “let your musky flesh fall off in shreds” (Diyanni, p. 101). I enjoyed reading this essay and for myself gained a different perspective off of it. However I think Dillard saw something that was not there. She interpreted a new life perspective into her encounter with a weasel. It is a good example of that human beings are superior to all other animals.
We have consciousness and try to connect events and make sense out of them. We constantly look for change and strive for better. To me Dillard took it a notch to far with the mind connecting, however it made me think, it convinced me that sometimes that you need to grab life by its throat and take it all in without thinking too much, seize the day and once in a while, live a little mindless. References: Annie Dillard: Living like a Weasel in: Diyanni, Robert:50 Great Essays. 4th. New York City: Penguin Academics, 2010. Print. http://www. anniedillard. com/ http://www. numerology. com/numerology-numbers/6