Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

by Annie Dillard

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Is "Terror at Tinker Creek" a chapter in Dillard's "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" or a standalone essay?

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“Terror at Tinker Creek” is not a name of a chapter in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. However, it does aptly describe the reader’s feeling once he or she reaches the book’s via negativa section, which begins with the chapter titled “Fecundity.” In this chapter, Annie Dillard expresses her growing discomfort and disgust with the immense scale of the earth’s living creatures. Particularly from a human perspective, this cycle of life and death seems wasteful and pointless. Here, Dillard begins to grapple with the thought that the universe, rather than being a place of wonder and awe, is an uncaring cycle of reproduction and death. 

After a long search, I also do not believe that “Terror at Tinker Creek” is a stand-alone essay. Dillard herself does not mention it in her website’s “Essays” section, “Stories” section, or “Odd Bits” section, and it does not appear in any search engines. I'd be interested to hear if anyone else found this essay, and I wonder if perhaps it is a scholarly essay written about Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. However, if that is the case, I am still unable to find a satisfactory result for it. 

For a full list of chapter titles, as well as short summaries, I suggest reviewing the link at the bottom of my answer.


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