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Interpretation of Annie Dillard's "Living like Weasels"

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Develop an interpretation of "Living like Weasels" an essay by Annie Dillard:


Observe details, connect those details, and make inferences about the author's argument based on those details.
Your interpretation, then, will not be a summary of the essay; instead, it will be your argument as to a primary meaning and persuasive purpose of the essay. Like any piece of writing, an essay can have multiple interpretations; thus, your interpretation should be arguable, debatable, forcing you to support it with enough analysis of the text to reveal to your own readers the validity of your interpretation.

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Hello, and thank you for submitting the question. You might be stumped as to the meaning of Dillard's essay. In a graduate course I took, we discussed this essay at length, and I can share those insights and interpretations with you.

Details: the following details I've chosen here are the ones that strike me most vividly and also lend themselves to interpretation. I offer some interpretation after each detail, and more interpretation at the end.

In the first paragraph, the violence of the weasel is striking: "Obedient to instinct, he bites his prey at the neck, either splitting the jugular vein at the throat or crunching the brain at the base of the skull, and he does not let go."

In the very next paragraph, the weasel's violent bite into an eagle is described as something of beauty. The weasel is a "pendant" hanging from the eagle. The weasel's violence is transformed into something lofty, a thing of beauty. This movement, showing the dignity and morality of how animals live, of "doing" without "thinking," of diving into life and becoming one with your sensations--this is the basic message of the essay, that we have something to learn from the weasel's behavior, as violent as it is. The weasel lives of "necessity" as she says ...

Solution Summary

The interpretation of Annie Dillard's "Living like Weasels" is examined.