The Chase by Annie DIillard
In “The Chase” Annie Dillard things back to a time in her childhood when she threw a snowball at a car and was chased by a man through her neighborhood. Although she is now an adult, Dillard still remembers this incident vividly. She shows how this chase stayed with her throughout her life because it was the most exciting experience she ever had.
Annie Dillard, begins the story by mentioning bits of her interests as a young girl. She sets up the story by introducing two parts of her childhood, baseball and football. In each of these sports, she points out the important lessons she learned. These lessons’ importance would become more clear later on during the events. “It was all or nothing”. Dillard Basically stating that in football you have got to give all of your effort and not hesitate at all if you want to make the tackle and stop the offense. This do or die attitude is reflected later in the story during the chase scene.
In the first paragraph Dillard introduced her strategy of winning through the use of flashback. “You went out for a pass…It was nothing at all…If you hesitated in fear…” the use of past tense shows her use of flashback. She is very outgoing and adventurous. She likes to play sports with the boys rather than having tea parties. In the warm weather, Dillard and the boys played baseball and football. However in the winter there was neither football nor baseball, so Dillard and the boys threw snowballs at passing cars. She got into trouble for throwing snowballs, but yet she enjoyed the thrill of it.
It was the morning after Christmas new snow had fallen causing the snow to look smooth and puffy. Standing in the snow on a front yard with Dillard was Mickey and Peter Fahey, Chickie McBride, Billy, Paul, and Machie Keen. They were all set for the moment of excitement as they wait with anxiety for the cars to travel slowly. “wrapped in red ribbons, cream puffs”, Dillard uses metaphor to express her feelings because to her the cars were seen as Christmas presents that were wrapped in red ribbons, this reveals her feelings of excitement. As time drifted by the “complex of beige chunks like crenellated castle walls”, Dillard uses simile in this sentence to describe the snow.
She compares the ridge of the castle walls to the mark the tires left on the white puffy snow which was turned into ice leaving the color beige and dirty. “We all spread out, banged together some regular snowballs…we hit out target, but this time, the only time in all of life, the car pulled over…incredibly, the man was after us” The use of diction banged, hit, pulled, incredibly and ran, signaled the sudden change in tone from a regular snowy day to the moment of adventure. Dillard was shocked because for the first time ever a car stopped a young man in his twenties stepped out and began chasing them block after block. This is where the intensive excitement begins. Annie Dillard develops her conflict between her friends and the man through word repetition, word choice, and even description. She used repetition by repeating “he chases” at the beginning of some paragraphs and this creates tension because she only says “he chased” a few times at the beginning of a paragraph but she spreads it out to show how long they were being chased for.
Through the repetition of words such as “chase” the readers get an idea of this issue while being “involved” in the problem, as the kids run through the various streets and neighborhoods. Hand-in-hand with word repetition, descriptive detail plays a major role in Dillard’s formation of the conflict. Through numerous descriptions (and even imagery technique) of the man, the cars, the surrounding environment and even the streets/neighborhoods the readers can paint a clear picture. Nonetheless, through the use of specific words such as “ running for our lives, sprung us into flight, immense discovery, pounding, frantic, Exhilarated, dismayed, exhilarated, etc.” the readers are able to feel and be as if they were the ones in the story.
This also reveals the use of diction. “He chased Mikey and me around the yellow house and up a backyard path we knew by heart: low tree, up a bank, through the hedge, down some snowy steps…” Dillard uses syntax by making her sentences longer and the use of semi colons. She build suspense by describing the running through a maze of backyards and running across streets, the reader never knows when they will be caught by the driver She wanted us to feel the excitement as she takes us through the chase with her. She wanted the masterpiece of the story to be revealed as a form of a surprise to make the story interesting.
In the beginning of the chase all of the boys along with Dillard were running from the man, but in the myths of the chase when she turned back everyone vanished except for Mickey Fahey. Dillard had taught that the man would’ve quite like any normal adult would, but the man apparently had all day. Dillard didn’t care much, she wanted the excitement to last forever because she was enjoying the thrill of being chased. The man as well had his own moments, chasing the kids made him feel like a kid again.
Dillard also signaled the climax of the story by saying “ He caught us and we all stopped” there was also a change in tone or a shift in this part of the story. This changes in tone or shift indicates that the fun and excited part is coming to an end. All the excitement she was saving up had suddenly vanished because the expected glory didn’t last forever. The man had finally come back to reality and Dillard reveals her disappointment because of what she expected to a happen didn’t. “ He could’ve only Fried Mikey and me in boiling oil, or dismembered them piecemeal, or shake us to anthills”. Dillard uses hyperbole to exaggerate her expectations as she was hoping for something more exciting.
Later on in life as an adult as Annie Dillard reflects upon the meaning that the chase has on her life and she realizes that you should do things with passion because it makes life meaningful. Dillard was inspired by the man passion for not giving up. This made her realize that “you have to fling yourself at what you’re doing, you have to point yourself, forget yourself, aim, dive. So she threw herself out there, kept on going to the end of the chase. In the end she was happy because she learned that an adult can actually share the same passion of putting his or her heart into something like she did as she threw the snowballs.