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More Than Just a Dead Moth Essay

Annie Dillard wrote an essay, “Death of a Moth,” which is from her book, Holy the Firm. Dillard’s essay, “Death of a Moth,” starts off with the author talking about a couple of dead moths behind her toilet in her bathroom. Then Dillard starts reminiscing about an encounter she had with a moth on a camping trip she took by herself in Virginia. While Dillard was reading a book, a moth flew into her tent and into her candle’s flame and burned. Then, Dillard starts analyzing the burning moth and starts taking notes on it in her journal.

From the events of that camping trip, Dillard wrote the essay “Death of a Moth”. The reason Dillard wrote journals on the burning moth and devoted an essay on the moth is because she gained a lot of insight from the burning moth. One of the many things that Annie Dillard saw in the dying moth was a theme of life. “…a saffron yellow flame that robed her to the ground like any immolating monk. ” (Dillard 4) Back around the 1960’s, monks would set themselves on fire to go against government oppression. The theme that Dillard saw in the moth was from every loss came a gain.

When the monks would set themselves on fire, it would draw attention from the world. So, from the death of the monk, which was the loss, came the attention of the world to what was going on, and that was the gain. Another example of the theme of loss and gain that Annie Dillard saw in the burning moth was connected to herself. On this camping trip, Dillard was reading book The Day on Fire which inspired her to be a writer when she was sixteen. Dillard was hoping that reading the book would re-inspire her to want to be a writer again because she wasn’t as motivated to write.

While Dillard was reading the book, a moth flew into her candlelight and burned for a long time. The death of the moth happens to be what inspired Dillard, “…while I read by her light, kindled. ” (4) So, the theme of loss and gain was shown here again, where the death of the moth was the loss and Dillard being re-inspired was the gain. The last thing Annie Dillard saw in the dead moth was the value of something after death. Even though the moth was dead, it was serving a purpose, a role after its death. And then this moth-essence, this spectacular skeleton, began to act as a wick.

She kept burning…. She burned for two hours. ” (4) No matter how small something is, it will always serve a purpose, especially after it death. The moth served a small physical purpose after its death by give of a light, but it also served a much bigger purpose for Dillard, which was it re-inspired her to write again. Also, Dillard wants to do the same thing with herself and her writings when she passes away. Dillard wants people to read her works so that her legacy, her flame will keep on burning.

The reason Dillard wrote journals on the burning moth and devoted an essay on the moth is because she gained a lot of insight from the burning moth. From the burning moth Dillard saw a theme of life, the theme of loss and gain in more than one way. Another thing Dillard understood from the dying moth that after something dies, it has a role. So, did Annie Dillard waste her time when she wrote this essay devoted to a moth? Dillard did not waste her time when she wrote this essay because she saw things in the burning moth that most people wouldn’t have seen and so, she shared what she saw and the insight she had learned from the moth.


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