Stery and Wonder in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

Categories: Annie Dillard

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek written by Annie Dillard is a novel that creates mystery and wonder. The narrator goes through life examining countless different things that an ordinary person would not typically pay attention to. Dillard wants the reader to go through life the way she does, by closely examining details, whether it be big or small, and realize what is happening in our surroundings before it is gone.

By thoroughly looking at every detail of the creek, Dillard gives the readers an opportunity to create their own mental images of what Tinker Creek truly looks like.

Dillard openly encourages the reader to “ take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what’s going on.” Her diction choices, and imagery create a picture in the novel that otherwise would not have been present. Essentially, she voices her position with descriptions of her close relationship with the creek.

Dillard’s diction is the main contributor to how the reader visualizes the scenery that is around her.

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She expresses that “seeing is of course very much a matter of verbalization” (33). She explains that her sight alone can not give her a satisfactory feeling. She must use her words in order to fully understand the serenity and complexity of the environment around her. An example of this is on page 110 when she describes the newts’ skin as “lighted green” instead of ‘a green that is light.’

By explaining it the way she did, the newts suddenly seem like a much more important part of their world.

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Another example of her diction is on page 188 when she describes that the eels’ skin “turned silver.” This description allows the eels’ change in shade to appear like it’s cosmic and magical. On page 248, she describes the clouds as “careening” and not controlled. Dillard is explaining that the creek may look as one whole but each detail and organism lives separately, creating an individual environment. On page 69, nature is described as an “inexhaustible tale” which leads the reader to thinking it’s a never ending journey and continues even when no one is looking.

The imagery in which Dillard uses in the collection of passages she created are a key factor in making the reader feel certain emotions that she is trying to unveil. In chapter 10, the reader gets a glimpse into the dark mindset she had created. She has a nightmare and talks about things that bother her. She contemplates death and talks about how everything dies. She says that nature is not here for us to judge it, but for us to enjoy and be amazed by. On page 161, she talks about about two luna moths, “I was watching two huge luna months mate.

Luna moths are those fragile ghost moths, fairy moths, whose five-inch wings are swallow-tailed, a pastel green bordered in silken lavender. From the hairy head of the male sprouted two enormous, furry antennae that trailed down past his ethereal wings. He was on top of the female, hunching repeatedly with a horrible animal vigor.' This imagery shows how the many examples of beauty in nature into a darkness. It shows how the mindset of nature has changed and it disturbs her.

Annie Dillard’s main goal when writing the Pilgrim at Tinker Creek was for the reader to pay attention to their surroundings but also not to let anything in their lives be taken for granted. She primarily uses nature as something that is always being taken for granted because it is one of the most common things one doesn’t pay attention to or realize the changes happening until after they are gone. A key example is when the sun is setting, people only realize it is gone once it is dark, or when the mesmerizing colors of the sunset are in the sky.

It is safe to say that human nature only realizes the beauty of how quickly something can change. She is hoping people will realize from reading her book of uncensored nature and its beauty is not something that should be taken for granted, rather one should take what they have in the outside world to distract us from everyday issues. Annie Dillard is trying to emphasize every action in nature has beauty in it, but people are choosing to ignore the beauty when they need to look at it with a fresh pair of eyes, everyday.

Updated: Feb 22, 2024
Cite this page

Stery and Wonder in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. (2024, Feb 13). Retrieved from

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