Death of a Moth

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When I initially read Annie Dillard’s “Death of a Moth” I barely skimmed the surface. I did not really read between the lines or attempt to get into the author’s head. I simply thought the essay was about a woman who was intrigued by the many bugs that inhabited her home. After a long class discussion, I was able to revisit this piece of literature and select a new grouping of tones. The tones I have chosen to describe this work are as follows: piteous, allusive, and frustrated.

As I read the essay, I began to pay more attention to the sentences that were about the narrator. I wanted to absorb as much information about the narrator as I could. While reading, I learned that the narrator spends the majority of her time alone. She seems isolated from the rest of the world. In many of the sentences, she subtly mentions that she is alone. The sentence that begins, “I was camped alone in the Blue Ridge Mountains…” is a good example of this. I began to pity the speaker because she tries to make the reader think that she is content with being alone but the reader knows all too well that the narrator longs for male companionship.

While reading, I began to pick up on many allusions throughout the last half of the essay. The writer used the moth’s burning to create allusions for sex, purity, and hell. The speaker could possibly be a religious person because she uses words such as saint, God, virgin, and angel throughout the essay. The narrator could also be a virgin who does not believe in pre-marital sex. I began to think about this as I read the paragraph about the night she was camping. She mentioned that she had experienced an encounter with a swarm of moths. She said, “…pale moths seeking mates massed round my head in the clearing, where my light made a ring.” The ring of light was made by a candle. To me the ring of light symbolizes a halo and the swarm of moths circling her light would be temptation she faces to give up her purity.

As I got further into the...
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