Up on Tinker Creek, she sends me

Gavin Shulman '05, English 171, Sages and Satirists, Brown University, 2003

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So many things have been shown me on these banks, so much light has illumined me by reflection here where the water comes down, that I can hardly believe that this grace never flags, that the pouring from ever-renewable sources is endless, impartial, and free. [68]

With these words Annie Dillard makes it very clear how valuable she views the creek in her backyard. It will serve as the setting for her journal, her environment for observation, her living, breathing, interactive fishbowl, or mason jar, if you will. And the creek will not just play a concrete, physical role. Dillard assigns a strong symbolic role to the stream as well. In frequent and curious metaphoric references the stream takes on a character of more depth than even it's own dimensions might seem to allow.

Living is moving; time is a live creek bearing changing lights. [82]

The world's spiritual geniuses seem to discover universally that the mind's muddy river, this ceaseless flow of trivia and trash, cannot be dammed, and that trying to dam it is a waste of effort that might lead to madness. [32]

If I stay at home I preserve the illusion that what is happening on Tinker Creek is the very newest thing, that I'm at the very vanguard and cutting edge of each new season. [75]

How does Dillard use her microcosm of a creek to reveal something about the macrocosm of existence?Is she effective in this?

Does she rely too heavily on location or is her creek an effective symbol for the philosophical questions she wishes to undertake?

What is the role of Tinker Creek in the book?

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Last modified 3 December 2006