Seeing by Annie Dillard: Summary & Analysis
1A. Dillard’s essay focuses on how we see, what we see, and why we see. She begins with a short story about how as a child she used to hide pennies. Hiding pennies for strangers to find brought her joy, and was simply her doing for the greater good. Dillard stated how she had been thinking about seeing, “there are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises”. This was only the start of young Dillard’s philosophy on how to properly view the world. One of the ideas being that we can see if only we care enough to find them (the pennies in this case). The more devoted people are to discovering things, the more likely they will be to succeed. The penny idea fades into a metaphor for the act of seeing, helping intro the essay which studies the different ways in which we see.
1B. A large theme expressed in Dillard’s essay is spirituality. This essay comes from a Pilgrim at Tinker Creek; pilgrim can be defined as a person on a religious journey, which starts off the theme of religion. Dillard is talking about laying in bed at night, she talks about laying in bed with her eyes opened and she sees darkness. She continues to explain when her eyes are closed she can see the stars, “If we are blinded by darkness, we are also blinded by the light”. At first light and dark to me meant nothing but I later realized after it was continuously mentioned it was a relation to good and evil. For Dillard, seeing is a religious experience in which she feels herself in the presence of something greater than herself. The metaphors Dillards uses are to quietly slip in religion without forcing the idea upon others. Relating to the overall piece religion is a way Dillard sees and hopes away others wish to see. When seeing good always comes with seeing evil, and vise versa.
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2. The penny idea instantly caught my attention in relation to my own life. When I was around nine my best friend and I used to super glue coins to the ground outside her house, we would sit there for hours and watch people pass and attempt to pick them up. It was so funny because no one could pick them up. Looking back on it, after reading Dillard’s piece, what kind of person would this make me? Dillard as a young child did it to brighten up people’s day, I did it to brighten up my own. Those who stopped and attempted to pick the coins up were people filled with devotion and those who passed were too caught up in their own affairs.