Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

by Annie Dillard

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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 269

  • Find out more about the Roman Catholic monk Thomas Merton, who was also a poet and a political activist. What causes did he speak out about? How did he understand the ideal balance between a life of contemplation and a life of activism?
  • Read some excerpts from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden; or, Life in the Woods, especially one or two passages in which he gives detailed accounts of his observations of nature. In terms of the amount of precise detail, how do his accounts compare with Dillard’s? How would you compare the conclusions Thoreau and Dillard draw from their observations?
  • For a short time, Dillard considered submitting her manuscript to publishers under the name ‘‘A. Dillard’’ so the publishers would assume the author was a man. Do you think this would have fooled them? If you did not know the name of the author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, what clues in the text would suggest a female author? Consider language, imagery, and attitude.
  • Using balls to represent the Earth and the Sun, demonstrate the meanings of the terms ‘‘winter solstice’’ and ‘‘summer solstice.’’ Explain how the position of the Earth relative to the Sun at each solstice affects the weather where you live.
  • Spend an hour or more alone, replicating one of Dillard’s activities: Stalk a muskrat or other animal to see how close you can get; sit still outside at sunrise or sunset and watch the light change; or pat a puppy and try to think of nothing else except what you are doing. Write a brief essay in which you describe the experience.

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