Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

by Annie Dillard

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How is the concept of place discussed in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek?

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Dillard's notion of "place" is the place where nature happens. She writes about nature as a place where life-and-death dramas are played out around us all the time.

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While Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is about her time living in a specific place in Virginia, the "place" she writes about is the natural world. Dillard is a keen observer of nature. Often, she concentrates on the brutality of the natural world, the endless cycle of living and dying, the "chomp or fast" dynamic she sees in the lives of the animals and insects around her. These details serve to make her writing come alive but also help her make a larger point about nature.

Take, for instance, her description of an incident in which a "tiny pale green insect" flies into a spider's web, only to fight its way out of the web before it can be devoured by the spider. She finds in such moments a marvelous, and terrifying, specificity.

"Place" in such moments has little to do with where she is; she is focused on "place" as it is experienced by the fly—that is, the web. By looking in detail at these "places" in nature, she becomes aware of the constant struggle in the lives of the creatures around her and of her own place in it, as a "frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world." For Dillard, looking closely at nature reveals all its imperfections, which helps her understand and appreciate her own place in it.

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