Professor Jeremiah Crotser
28 March 2014
Notion of Sight in Response to Langston Hughes’ Salvation and Annie Dillard’s Sight into Insight
Sight is a notion perceived differently by different people. When it came to Hughes and Dillard it was obvious that sight was exercised in opposite ways. Hughes was more close minded while Dillard was more open minded and due to these polarities their views on sight were greatly affected.
Sight is a gift that we manage to control and therefor end up over thinking what we see or will see. As people, we tend to set standards that might not even exist. When it came to Langston Hughes, he believed that he would actually “see” Jesus. Hughes states “still I kept waiting to see Jesus” (1060). This in turn allows us to understand that Hughes didn’t think it meant that he would experience a holy moment; he actually believed he would see a person appear to him. On the other hand Annie Dillard knew that she could only see what she was willing to see. Dillard says “it’s all a matter of keeping my eyes open” (1110), allowing us to comprehend that she knew what she was capable of actually seeing if she allowed herself to do so.
When taking sight in to consideration you have to understand that you see what you want, but your perception is also obscured by your position. For you to be able to connect with your surroundings you have to be open to them. In Salvation, Hughes lacked his own sense of belief and sight and focused on the belief and sight that his aunt had. Hughes states “she said you could see and hear and feel Jesus in your soul. I believed her” (1059). Therefore, Hughes allowed his aunt’s ideas to overpower him and shape the way he viewed his situation. On the other hand Dillard allowed herself to have her own thoughts and beliefs on what she actually saw. Dillard’s thoughts went beyond what she actually saw. Dillard believed that “there are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises” (1109). We as people perceive and comprehend that Dillard knew there was more than just the ordinary nature and she knew she would only perceive it if she allowed herself to do so.
Sometimes the simplest things to grasp are yet the most complex and even if you think that they’re unimportant, sometimes to other’s it might be the greatest thing. In Hughes’ situation, he took that moment of “salvation” and made it into a moment/situation of greater importance that what it actually was. Hughes believed he would actually “see” Jesus when in reality it wasn’t so. It’s clear that nobody valued that moment like he did. It was clear the moment that Westley, the rounder’s son, decided he was tired of sitting there and just “got up and was saved” (1060). At that moment it was clear that no one really understood the situation they were in, therefore Hughes over rationalized the whole moment. Dillard though saw that even though nature was so simple, it was hidden in the most casual of states. Nature was “a now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t affair” for Dillard and she knew that nature “conceals with a grand nonchalance” (1110). Dillard accepted that nature was more complex than anything else which in turn allowed her to be at peace with herself, something that Hughes didn’t and couldn’t accomplish himself.
In the end, sight is a notion that was brought forth, both by Hughes and Dillard, but was treated completely different. To Hughes, sight was affected by his close mindedness therefore becoming a disability to himself, while for Dillard sight was broadened and dissected by her open mindedness and ailed her to grow and accept that even though sight might be complex it’s still understandable.
Langston, Hughes. “Salvation.” The Norton Reader 13th Edition. Ed. Linda H. Peterson, John C.Brereton, ad. Ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012. 1059-1060. Print. Dillard, Annie. “Sight into Insight.” The Norton Reader 13th Edition. Ed. Linda H. Peterson,John C. Brereton, ad. Ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012. 1109-1119. Print.