In her essay, Annie Dillard wrote: "There was only silence. It was the silence of matter caught in the act and embarrassed. There were no cells moving, and yet there were cells. I could see the shape of the land, how it lay holding silence"(396)1. The story in which she talked about the silence of the land was published in 1982, and today, almost two decades having gone by, A Field of Silence, is still able to relate to its readers.
A Field of Silence is a story about one of Dillard's religious experiences. It may be considered boring and confusing to most people, but I found it to be quite interesting. I have to admit though, I found the story a bit boring the first time that I read it, but after reading it over a couple of times, I was able to understand what Dillard was trying to accomplish. She used a story telling technique to grab the reader's attention and then at the end she gave her own impression of what she thought about her experience. If Dillard just came right out and said what she believed was a valuable piece of information for everyone to know, this essay would not have survived as long as it has out there in the real world. Most people are not interested in being told the facts right away; they want to think about what it is that the author is trying to tell them. Although some people may complain that they are confused and that the article is boring (I know I did at first), most people will agree that they would try to figure out what the author is saying. For that reason, Dillard does an excellent job with A Field of Silence.
I believe that there is an advantage to reading an essay about a religious experience from another time period for ...
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...h them. Most people, including myself, remember sayings a whole lot easier if there is a story behind it that we can fall back on or relate to, and that is exactly what Dillard did in A Field of Silence.
Whether people find this article boring or interesting most people would agree with me that Dillard knows how to relate to her readers. She knows how to grab the audience, drag them through her entire story, and leave them hanging wondering what it was that she was actually trying to tell them. No wonder I do not find it amazing that almost two decades later, people can still relate to Dillard's experience.
1 Anderson, Chris and Lex Runciman. (1995). A field of Silence. In A Forest of Voices: Reading and Writing the Enviroment (pp.395- 399). Calafornia: Mayfield Publishing Co. Hereafter, all quotes will be taken from this source.
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