James Dickey American Literature Analysis
Dickey’s essay “The Enemy from Eden” is a meditation on the metaphysics of snake hunting with a blowgun. The blowgun-wielding hunter—“the One,” as Dickey identifies him—fashions his weapon from a length of aluminum pipe and arms it with sharpened lengths of coat-hanger wire guided by improvised vanes of typing paper scraps. With this weapon the snake hunter seeks his foe, alert not to walk “right into the fangs, the jungle hypodermic.” When the “Universal Evil,” the “Enemy from Eden,” succumbs to the coat-hanger needle in the brain, his skin will become “something to have a drink with, at all times of day and night.” After the kill, “For some reason, the One is well, full of himself and out of himself.”
This brief essay contains much essential Dickey, an avid deer and snake hunter as he prided on portraying himself. Striding into the natural world, armed with the minimum of hand-fashioned weapons, and doing battle with the allegorical monster is an irresistible theme. It also relates directly to Dickey’s concern in both his fiction and his poetry for the magic and mystery of nature and the dangers and satisfactions available to the man who will face up to the challenges. The attitudes expressed therein are typical of his main theme in literature and, likely, life: survival. Witness to harrowing scenes while serving in the Air Force during World War II, he confessed in one of his 1970 self-interviews to viewing existence...
(The entire section is 4527 words.)
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