In an excerpt “The Chase” from her memoir
In an excerpt “The Chase” from her memoir, Annie Dillard recalls an incident from her childhood in which she felt fascinated with the thrill of a chase and her childish regard for the world. The incident comes into play when Dillard and his friends went outside and started throwing iceballs at cars one winter day. The day was going well until they did not know it then when hitting a black Buick that was driving down the street, but they had met their match. The incident stayed throughout her life because it illustrates how the experience influenced her, from her description of her mysterious pursuer to the strange occurrence which was in it of itself the chase.
After moving forward and digging into more interesting gear to what everyone expects, Annie Dillard’s doesn’t begin the narrative with the incident, rather a description of herself because Dillard’s motive is to first describe her interests and focuses as a child, an example of her use of pacing. Throughout the essay, Dillard uses childhood memories to prove a point. She first talks about football and writes that “nothing girls did could compare with it” (para 1) it shows her excitement of being as a young girl and being included in a boy’s game that is superior to any game of a girl and how it influenced her and made her feel placing the audience in her shoes as she remembers from her childhood. Through her use of pacing, in her first two paragraphs, she effectively describes how the recollection of her memories impacted her. It brings a sense of what she was going through because as she builds up excitement and attachment to the chase, she further incorporates herself into her own memories and makes them feel as they are a part of the chase. Also, her use of diction in the forms of action words such as “kicked,” or “flung” brings excitement and suspense in her mind as was recalling those memories when she was young.
The overall structure of the narrative used by Dillard in the essay is narration. Dillard’s narration of being chased after getting caught throwing a snowball at a man cars. She also uses pacing in her narrative because it shows how Annie Dillard describes the events in a chronological way by maintaining her pace steadily and creating sequential events that led to the day. Dillard starts off her story with “On one weekday morning after Christmas…” (para 3) and does not end the story for another thirteen paragraphs or so. She takes time to explain the sequential events of the story, like how she “started making an iceball” (para 6), then throwing the snowballs and hitting the car (para 6-7), and finally the man getting out of his car and running toward them (para 9-10). Dillard goes on to explain the chase and getting caught (para 10-19), and in these paragraphs, another method emerges. This method is a description, particularly descriptions of her feeling as she is being chased. One distinct feeling she possesses is a surprise. She experiences shock when she realizes that the man chasing her, and her friend is not giving up. Dillard’s mentions this several times by writing things like, “incredibly, he was still after us” (para 10) and ” I expected that quit” (para 13). She doesn’t begin the chronology with the chase because she wants to highlight her insightful interests in “football” or “baseball” that correlates when she was being chased by the black Buick. For instance, she mentions “I started making an iceball – a perfect iceball, from perfectly white snow, perfectly spherical, …. (para 6) it shows that from her practice of football she already builds up those skills when throwing iceballs and her accuracy.
As mentioned above in the passage, Dillard’s use of chronological sequence helps to shape the narrative to the day leading into the chase through her use of rhetorical strategy. The first strategy she executes is the syntax. It shows as she goes more in-depth about chasing the language of the passage changes every time on different stages of the chase. Dillard does this because she wants the chase to be analyzed on different aspects of the level to demonstrate the effect of the chase it had on her life. In (paragraph 9), the initiation of the chase, Dillard’s syntax slows down. Short sentences such as “He didn’t even close the door,” (line 2) or “Its wide black door opened; a man got out of it, running” (line 2) demonstrate basic human reflexes such as fight or flight kicking in. She also uses imagery in (para 12) “We smashed through a gap in another hedge, entered a scruffy backyard and ran around its back porch and tight between houses to Edgerton Avenue; we can across Edgerton to an alley and up our own sliding woodpile to Halls’ front yard; he kept coming” demonstrate the struggle they undergo throughout the chase and how disorderly the chase as they tried their hardest way possible to flee the grasp of the man. She adds another level to the battle of their chase giving herself only a piece of how riotous and wild-eyed everything was showing how the surge of life can influence one’s self and can be powerful in one’s life. After the chase, regardless she recollects every one of the sentiments and sensations she got. Her recollections of the chase, which are basically encapsulated inside the story uncover that the chase, the surge of life, remains with her.
The actual chase begins in paragraph 9. Annie describes how the man got out of it and he didn’t even close the car door just constantly chasing them. The occasion was energizing and new to Dillard as a surprise for her. She experiences shock when she realizes that the man is not giving up, she expresses her reaction in the text “incredibly, he was still after us” (para 10), and “I expected he would quit” (para 13). Still, Dillard was so shocked that she couldn’t keep mentioning the man, she feels as he would never give up in (para 14). Though she remembers the names of the street, thorny hedges, between houses, around garbage cans that support the main idea because they influence the purpose. It shows to the audience as they were experiencing their own childhood memory and the feeling linked with it.
After being chased by the man, Dillard reveals her excitement and intensity for the chase through the use of rhetorical strategy. She uses shorter syntax to express her excitement and thrill when the author moves to the part where she and her friends split off from the rest of the group and are entrapped in the backyard. She writes “I was cherishing my excitement” (para 16) and “I wanted the glory to last forever” (para 19), shows that after being caught, Dillard refers to the man as a hero who chased her passionately without giving up and having a profoundly memorable experience that stayed throughout her life. In addition, she implements more action words in the form of diction such as “chased”, “running”, “gaining” etc., demonstrates her amazement and exhilaration to emphasize the seriousness of her actions during the chase. Also, her use of enumeratio strategy really helps the author to collaborate with her audience in the form of tone. This can be seen in paragraphs 12 to 13, she describes ” He chased Mikey and me ….. to Edgerton avenue”. This representation of the chase shows that the author is breaking down the information into different steps with specific details and action.
In the very beginning of the story, Dillard described the tactics that she learned by playing football. These tactics helped her becoming more stronger as she wrote: ” it was all or nothing.” (para 1). When she started playing football, she learned how to win the game with the help of boys that welcomed her. She talks about tackling on the field, according to the text “But if you flung yourself wholeheartedly at the back of his knees – if you gathered and joined body and soul and pointed them diving fearlessly – then you likely wouldn’t get hurt, and you’d stop the ball”. It shows when the man started chasing her, she will push herself and diligently work hard just as she does on the field. She also describes the connection between chase and playing football “that you have to fling yourself at what you’re doing, you have to point yourself, forget yourself, aim, dive,” (para 13) this directly refer to the tactic she learned by playing football and applying those tactics when the man was chasing her.
The chase comes to the climax in paragraph 16 when Dillard describes how the man caught them and her amazement at the man quick perfunctorily response he said ” you stupid kids” after chasing them so long. These three words meant so much to Dillard because it shows how the man chased her passionately, without giving up and that would stick to her throughout her lifetime. A rhetorical strategy used by Dillard in the climax scene is a hyperbola. She writes “If in that snowy backyard the driver of the black Buick had cut off our heads, Mikey’s and mine, I would have died happy, for nothing has required so much of me since as being chased all over Pittsburg in the middle of winter-running terrified, exhausted by this sainted, skinny, furious red-headed man who wished to have a word with us. ” according to this quote it means that Dillard is exaggerating the fact that she thinks the man would have cut off her head because he had committed to chasing all day, but the only wanted to scold them with three profounding words.
After a too-long adrenaline-inducing chase, the abrupt end and basic reaction of the man brought disappointment to Annie. She explained and expanded her disappointment by using the rhetorical strategy through hyperbole. She mentioned that “he could have fried Mikey Fahey and me in boiling oil, say, or dismembered us piecemeal, or staked us to anthills.” it shows that she is overexaggerated her punishment to show the extent of her disappointment to the regular everyday reaction of the man who she called a “hero’.
The chase stayed with her because of the profound and reflective experience she had on her life. Still, when she writes the narrative after so many years, she remembers the incident with great memories attached to her. Throughout the way the narrative is told is all about the chase. When the incident happened she was really young; she didn’t experience much before that. The event stayed with her and the adrenaline-inducing chase the man taught her one thing – is if you want to achieve anything in life you must let it go aim and dive. This was the same philosophy she explored in playing football. Annie most probably used this ideology in her everyday life after that event, maybe she even used it in her writing career as well. That you should never give up, regardless of what happens to thwart our progress. She carried this same idea throughout the story “It was all or nothing. If you hesitated in fear you would miss and get hurt.” (para 1). At last, I would like to say, Annie Dillard beautifully expressed her thoughts and imagination to reinforce the purpose about the great chase.