Each person experiences certain things, even the most simplest and innocent, that enlighten him or her or bring about a revelation. At one point in each of our lives we will or already have had one such meaningful incident. In Annie Dillard’s short essay “Dumbstruck,” she recounts an experience just like that. Dillard’s experience jolts her, bringing to life an awareness of the harshness and inevitability that things happen, things are not permanent in this life. We first learn of her love to scare frogs, and as her short essay continues we swiftly learn that one specific experience goes awry. Dillard successfully submerges us into her story and we can begin to see her different feelings and tones. As her mood shifts from carefree and excited, to bewildered, to a more informative tone, we follow along breathlessly, as Dillard relates, in a brief, three-paragraph essay, her harrowing experience with the unpredictability of life.
Right off the bat Dillard begins her short essay with a quote that instantaneously brings to our attention the tone of her first paragraph, that she is carefree. She informs us of why she is there that day and what she is doing. The reason is to scare frogs, and is why she was on the edge of that island that summer day. From the very first sentence where she says, “A couple of summers ago I was walking along the edge of the island to see what I could see in the water, and mainly to scare frogs” (Dillard) we quickly get a sense of her tone. The use of the word ‘summer’ automatically makes us feel light-hearted and happy. Summer is a time where everyone is relaxed and easy-going, because for the most part there are no responsibilities that need to be taken care of. Summer evokes a feeling of being carefree. Even just the flow of her opening sentence makes your voice sound upbeat and bounce up and down. The word ‘summer’ also evokes a sense of excitement, not just being carefree. And that word alone sets the foundation of... [continues]
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