The Power of Dillard's A Field of Silence
In her essay, Annie Dillard wrote: "There was only silence. It was the silence of matter caught in the act and embarrassed. There were no cells moving, and yet there were cells. I could see the shape of the land, how it lay holding silence"(396)1. The story in which she talked about the silence of the land was published in 1982, and today, almost two decades having gone by, A Field of Silence, is still able to relate to its readers.
A Field of Silence is a story about one of Dillard's religious experiences. It may be considered boring and confusing to most people, but I found it to be quite interesting. I have to admit though, I found the story a bit boring the first time that I read it, but after reading it over a couple of times, I was able to understand what Dillard was trying to accomplish. She used a story telling technique to grab the reader's attention and then at the end she gave her own impression of what she thought about her experience. If Dillard just came right out and said what she believed was a valuable piece of information for everyone to know, this essay would not have survived as long as it has out there in the real world. Most people are not interested in being told the facts right away; they want to think about what it is that the author is trying to tell them. Although some people may complain that they are confused and that the article is boring (I know I did at first), most people will agree that they would try to figure out what the author is saying. For that reason, Dillard does an excellent job with A Field of Silence.
I believe that there is an advantage to reading an essay about a religious experience from another time period for one is able to see how some things never change. Religion is one of those things that seldom change. Dillard takes the valuable information she learned from her past experience and tries to teach others in a way that they would really have think about what she is saying. The example that she used focused on one of the mornings she spent on her farm. Dillard was bored, lonely, and easily annoyed with everything surrounding her. She explains how she found both the roosters crowing and the emptiness of the land very bothersome like "the ring of silence you hear in your skull when you're little and notice you're living, the ring which resumes later in life when you are sick"(397). As Dillard is describing her feelings on that particular morning, I could not help, but to think to myself that this must be one crazy lady. How can one find peacefulness and sweet sounds annoying? I would give up a day of my life in the cities to hear the crowing of the roosters and the sound of gravel on dirt roads. Also, I was telling myself that this lady needed to get some help because one would have to be crazy to find God's beautiful creations bothersome.
When Dillard wrote about the silence of the spread out fields and the...