[an analysis by Allen James]
The similes and metaphors that Annie Dillard employs in her essay, “Living Like Weasels,” created such vivid images for me, and in particular, the following passage inspired me so much, that I felt the need to write this very analysis: “The man could in no way pry the tiny weasel off, and he had to walk half a mile in water, the weasel dangling from his palm, and soak him off like a stubborn label” (148).
The author uses the simile, “like a stubborn label.” A “stubborn label” is a simple thing that the majority of people may have experienced. By using a common experience, Dillard illustrates that a weasel holds the stubborn quality of not being easily removed. She also uses the simile, “was socketed into his hand deeply as a rattlesnake,” to vividly exemplify something that I can see or have seen in nature or on television, and that allows my mind to run freely and imagine how painful this would feel if it happened to me. Dillard’s use of metaphors shows the fearlessness of a weasel when she asks, “was the whole weasel still attached to his feathered throat, a fur pendant?” Here, Dillard portrays the weasel’s determination. The use of metaphor was again very effective when the author states, “Our eyes locked, and someone threw away the key” (149). Imagery through the use of similes and metaphors was taken a step further when the author states: “Brains are private places, muttering through unique and secret tapes (150). Also imagery is portrayed to draw me as the reader in closer when the author says: “like blood pulsed into my gut through the jugular vein” (159).
I choose to highlight the above quotes because they take the human mind and senses of sight, and touch to help us explore sights and feel objects all through the use of words. When my mind is engaged, it can vividly see imagines and contrast and compare the similarities through personal experiences that stay within my mind. I am forced to examine the author’s viewpoints as to why the subject of weasels would be so compelling to write about when the author challenges me to look at my “brain” and “jugular veins.” I am challenged to learn new things about the dynamics and structure of weasels that I perhaps looked over or never cared to explore. I become compelled through similes and metaphors to see what the weasel sees and go where the weasel goes. The lines I quoted make me want to live inside the brain of a weasel and respect the animal and its natural habitat. Lastly, the imagery and use of similes and metaphors that Dillard employed compel me to “become” the weasel and, for a moment, to see the world as the weasel would, with no restrictions caused by fear or doubt.