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Diving Element in Dillard’s “Total Eclipse” December 13, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — hvandolsen @ 2:11 pm

Dillard first begins to include the diving metaphor subtly in the first part of the piece on page 81 stating, “We…descended several thousand feet into central Washington and the broad Yakima valley…” Dillard’s use of the word “descended” is indictative of a diver slowly going deeper and deeper in the ocean. She continues with this brief introduction of the diving methaphor by stating that their “ears popped” as they descended just as a diver has to equalize or pop his ears as the pressure increases. And then finally within the same paragraph Dillard writes, “I watched the landscape innocently, like a fool, like a diver in the rapture of the deep who plays on the bottom while his air runs out.” As opposed to the earlier references this is a more morbid use of the diving methaphor. Dillard claims that the diver’s “air is running out” as if to say that he is slowly but surely losing oxygen and life. Not only does Dillard claim this but she states that she is like this diver and is innocently waiting for something terrible to happen. This image could be indicative of Dillard’s belief that mankind are perhaps naive and simply swim along until all of a sudden death is a upon them.

The next time that Dillard employs the diving image is on page 89 stasting, “I should have known right then that I was out of my depth.” She explores depth and diving in a different light in this part. Dillard seems to feel out of control or scared and is still anticipating something terrible to happen. Another ascept of the diving methaphor that I picked up on is Dillard’s continuning description of the sky and its blue color. This could be linked to the deep blue of the ocean, “The sky’s blue was deepening, but there was no darkness” (P. 90). The use of the word “deepening” first brought this idea into mind, the sky’s blue color is linked to that of the ocean.

Dillard finally wraps up her use of the diving metaphor on the last page by stating, “From the depths of mystery, and even from the heights of splendor, we bounce back and hurry for the latitudes home” (P. 103) This is the last sentence of the piece that has a lot more positivety than the previous uses of the diving metaphor. Dillard discusses diving as a “mystery” and uses postitive words like “splendor” to describe the wonder that is life and all of the new discoveries that are made each and everyday.


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