Deliverance Analysis

Places Discussed (Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

The city

The city. Unnamed city in northern Georgia in which the novel’s four friends live and work. Although this place frames the main story, it is never named or treated as anything other than a normal, middle-class (sub)urban place. This technique effectively maintains Dickey’s realistic intention. Unlike antirealist novels, which distort reality in order to draw attention to the place as a symbol of something else, Dickey’s undogmatic use of “the city” allows readers merely to sense that this place is, in some real but undefinable way, a mythical place that represents all of modern, existential life. It is a metaphor for the alienation of the contemporary middle-class, which is treated as both materially successful and spiritually empty.

With its anonymous and interchangeable business complexes, shopping malls, fast-food joints, and suburbs, the city could be any modern American city. This technique underscores Dickey’s intention to present the extreme violence of the friends’ wilderness canoe trip as a universal human experience: Violence, the novel suggests, is the “normal” experience of modern American men. After the river, the city is the most important of the novel’s four places, since its job is to create an image of the modern American place, the most desirable, if flawed, image of order and civilization available to modern humanity.

Oree

Oree (OH-ree). Staging area for the...

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Deliverance Historical Context

Aftermath of Civil Rights
In recent years, "militias" of white men in camouflage fatigues, gathering at camps in the woods to...

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Deliverance Literary Style

Setting
Dickey's fictional stretch of the Cahulawassee River between Oree and Aintry of Helms County, Georgia, is a thinly...

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Deliverance Literary Techniques

Deliverance is very much Ed's story, not simply in the fact that he is a leading actor in the dramatic events that occur during the...

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Deliverance Ideas for Group Discussions

Some readers do not find Deliverance at all interesting, and some find it repulsive, yet others have their imaginations fired up by...

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Deliverance Compare and Contrast

1970: Americans are beginning to realize that the natural environment is in danger. The first Earth Day celebration is held on April...

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Deliverance Topics for Further Study

Research the Depression-era Tennessee Valley Authority dam project, referred to in the novel as TVA. Report on how river damming affects...

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Deliverance Literary Precedents

Deliverance is a rare outing by a poet into the field of prose fiction. But it does share with much of Dickey's poetry a preoccupation...

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Deliverance Related Titles

In his other novels, Alnilam (1987) and To the White Sea (1993) Dickey continues to explore themes which marked his early work:...

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Deliverance Adaptations

Deliverance was made into a 109-minute motion picture in 1972 (produced and directed by John Boorman). James Dickey himself wrote the...

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Deliverance Media Adaptations

Deliverance was made into a major motion picture in 1972, with Burt Reynolds as Lewis, Jon Voigt as Ed, Ned Beatty as Bobby, and James...

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Deliverance What Do I Read Next?

Many of the situations in Deliverance are reminiscent of the struggle between man and water presented in The Old Man and the Sea,...

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Deliverance Bibliography and Further Reading

Sources
Keen Butterworth, "The Savage Mind- James Dickey's Deliverance," In The Southern Literary Journal, Spring,...

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Deliverance Bibliography (Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

Doughtie, Edward. “Art and Nature in Deliverance.” Southwest Review 64 (Spring, 1979): 167-180. An exploration of how the arts serve a mediating function in the novel. Argues that art helps negotiate the important boundaries between nature, human nature, and civilization.

Endel, Peggy Goodman. “Dickey, Dante, and the Demonic: Reassessing Deliverance.” American Literature 60 (December, 1988): 611-624. Endel offers a sophisticated and cogent reading of the novel in the light of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno and demonstrates how Dickey has created a presentation of unsublimated evil after the fashion of Dante and against the romantic sublime.

Foust, R. E....

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