Julio 1 Ellixis Julio Ms. Woelke ERWC P.1 12 April 2011 Audubon and Dillard Rewrite In James Audubon’s Ornithological Biographies (1831-1839) and Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974), the two authors describe several flocks of birds as they pass through the sky. One author watches pigeons pour through the air, the other stares at starlings heading to roost. In their efforts to paint a picture of their aviary experience, the two writers share a similar reaction. Although Audubon and Dillard are both astounded by the sheer magnitude of the two flocks, their persona influences the way they each create their picture. Both authors can agree that their respective flocks are a powerful force, like a force driven by nature. Audubon notices how the pigeons grouped together “like a torrent” when hawk threatened the security of the flock (Audubon). The hawk is an insignificant predator when juxtaposed to the “[thunder-like noise]” made by the birds (Audubon). Similarly, the starlings in Dillard’s piece “sift…like smoke” “deep in the distance” (Dillard). Dillard sees that the starlings coalesce, as if they were a storm cloud fast approaching through the sky. She even goes on to say that the flocks formed “a rounded middle, like [the] eye” of a storm implied in Audubon’s passage (Dillard). The two also allude to a sort of nationalistic unity the flocks possess. The “immense legions [still] going by” are a country’s army, waving their “unfurled oriflamme” through enemy territory (Audubon; Dillard). The flock of birds generates their strength through sheer numbers, a limitless unit that even Audubon had trouble counting (Audubon). Audubon Julio 2 and Dillard are both overwhelmed by the “extreme” and “unexpected beauty” of the flock (Audubon; Dillard). While the two passages share similar praise for the bird’s unified power, Audubon concentrates on the logical, rational movement of the birds. The directional diction of the flock moving “north-east to south-west” suggests a straightforward, synchronized migration (Audubon). Exactly “163 birds had [passed by] in twenty-one minutes”; “perpendicularly” “forward in undulating and angular lines” (Audubon). Their mathematical maneuvers create a rigidly complex atmosphere for the observer. Additionally, Audubon’s use of “trials”, reports”, and “velocity” describing the bird’s flight refer common science terms, supporting his leftbrained approach (Audubon). Audubon’s background provides some insight to his method of description. As part of the National Audubon Society, Audubon was most probably an ornithologist observing the scientific behavior of birds (Ornithological biographies). Note that Audubon never describes being in the middle of the flock, but instead at a distance like a typical birdwatcher. Audubon’s logical appeal through his diction and imagery emphasizes the technical but unified movements of the pigeon flock. If Audubon can be thought of as a logical scientist, then Dillard can be thought of as an emotional poet. The starling’s “[unraveling]…like a loosened skein” contrasts sharply from Audubon’s geometrical rigidness (Dillard). The “unfurled oriflamme” of birds wave and curl in the air, a smooth motion (Dillard). “The loosened skein”, the “oriflamme”, and the “weft of limbs” are all phrases relating to textiles and crafts, a form of art. Dillard’s extended analogy to fabric focuses on the nonlinear aspect of the bird’s flight. In Dillard’s eyes, birds do not move as single “dots’ or “continued lines” (Audubon). They move in erratic harmony, “[bobbing]…at apparent random…yet perfectly spaced” (Dillard). The lack of scientific, analytical remarks in Julio 3 Dillard’s passage indicates a more aesthetic approach to her observation, because she has “no known reason” why starlings move as do, “except that’s how starlings fly” (Dillard). It appears that Dillard was a fiction writer/ poet who was concerned with the feelings the birds gave her. Unlike Audubon, “tiny birds [were] sifting through [Dillard]”, a sign that Dillard was in the middle of the flock (Dillard). Perhaps the birds “winged” not through the “gaps between [her] cells”, but rather gaps between her emotions (Dillard). Dillard’s emotional approach to the starling flock conveys a loosened, soft flight through the trees. One thing is for certain: Audubon and Dillard are taken aback by the extravagance of a flock of birds. Although both authors take a different perspective on the birds’ flight, neither one of them undermine the other. It is the combination of both passages that make a better picture of the flock’s journey. Maybe both writers’ perspectives are correct: the flight of the birds is like a harmonic randomness, an alluring gaze that can stupefy scientist and poet alike. Julio 4 Reflection I remember when I first wrote this ICE, at the very beginning of AP English sophomore year. This was the very first AP English essay my class and I wrote. We had infinitesimal knowledge of rhetorical devices (aside from the safe simile and metaphor route), and this essay was more of a “diagnostic” to see where we were at in our English career. Needless to say, I failed miserably, not even going as far to write a correct thesis. I even overlooked the multitude of similes and metaphors in the two passages (Ouch!). Over the next couple years, my “toolbox” of literary and rhetorical devices grew, and so did my analysis of passages. By the end of AP English, I was getting sixes and sevens like a regular champ. In this rewrite, I tried to incorporate pieces of knowledge from my English career: the unique connections honed in AP English, the stylistic and grammatical lessons taught AP English Literature, and the various methods of persuasion central to ERWC. I think I can honestly say my analysis of passages has gotten more specific, instead of the vague phrases I used long ago. Things like expanding on commentary, using fewer pronouns, making words flow together were all problems I tried to the best of my ability to mesh out. Regardless, I do feel at the end of this senior year that I have learned a lot (perhaps too much) about essay analysis and essay writing.