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In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard uses nature to talk about philosophical and spiritual topics. She exercises the habit of seeing, which is both passive observation and active creation, and uses it to explore questions of God’s goodness, or theodicy. Dillard’s creation—Pilgrim at Tinker Creek—does not deny that both cruel things and beautiful things exist in God’s creation. Dillard instead proposes that “[t]he answer must be . . . that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there” (Pilgrim 10). The result of Dillard’s decision to “sense them” and “be there” is her book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, which invites the reader to explore along with her, both in its content—stories of outdoor explorations—and in its overt position as a book, or something created in order to be sensed. Dillard champions the act of creation as the counterpart to the horrors found within creation; she presents creative action is her theodicy.


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  • Alternative title
    • Creation and Theodicy in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

  • DPLA rights
    • Madeline Perkins; 2018

  • Journal title
    • Papers & Publications

  • Volume
    • 7

  • Issue
    • 1

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Keywords
  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Madeline would like to thank Dr. Geoff Wright and Casey Cunningham for their assistance and support throughout the many drafts of this essay. She would also like to thank Annie Dillard for writing straight magic.

      Author Biography:

      Madeline Perkins currently works at Porter Capital Corporation as a factoring consultant. She graduated in May of 2018 from Samford University with a double major in Creative Writing and Public Administration. Throughout her time at Samford, she has served as a tutor in the writing center and as president of Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honors Society. She has also enjoyed her time as Chi Omega House Manager and director of Grace Dance Company. Her recent favorite books are Bad Feminist, What the Dog Saw, and The Defining Decade. Her perennial favorite books are On Writing Well, The Power of Habit, and the Betsy-Tacy series.

      Graduation Date:

      May 2018