James Dickey’s Deliverance
James Dickey’s Deliverance

James Dickey’s Deliverance

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  • Pages: 5 (2350 words)
  • Published: October 20, 2017
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During World War II Dickey enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps. Dickey served as a navigator with the 418th Night Fighters in the South Pacific where he logged close to 500 combat hours while flying over 100 missions. Dickey was awarded several awards, including the Air Medal, The Asiatic Pacific Ribbon, The Philippine Liberation Ribbon and seven battle stars.

Dickey’s nights consisted of near death experiences, while he days consisted of nothing to do. Dickey soon began to fill these long monotonous days with books developing his interest literature, particularly poetry. Thomson Gale, 2005)The War both fascinated and horrified Dickey, it changed his whole outlook on life, he now viewed his life as a survivor. He once commented in a letter to his parents that all he did was lie around and reflects on how lucky he was to be alive.

During the 1960’s Dickey experienced one of America’s most remarkable streaks of literary accomplishments in American literature. Most of this success was owed to his first collection of poetry, Into the Stone and Other Poems.In this book of poems, there were only five poems based on Dickey’s past war experiences. Most of the poems stressed nature as the force from which life and death can be gained.

(Calhoun, 1987) The first novel that Dickey published was called Deliverance. The novel was publicly attacked for its use of violence and ignoring important social issues. Despite all this, Deliverance became a best selling novel in 1970. For all of his collections of poems, Dickey came


closest to capturing his personal mythopoeic vision in his novel Deliverance.

The novel reflects Dickey’s characteristic cult of experience, concentrating on mans ambivalence towards civilization and the company of women. (Kellman, September 1994) Deliverance consists of four financially successful white-collar men, men who live in the suburbs. Ed, graphic designer or art director for an advertising agency, insurance salesman Bobby Trippe, and soft drink executive Drew Ballinger. The fourth, Lewis Medlock, is an outdoorsman who yearns to transcend his own claustrophobic existence as a landlord and who is the driving force behind the canoe trip.

The first section of the book describes a day at the office for Ed. This shows us of the normal unexcited events that happen in Ed’s life. You can begin to see the pattern that Ed does over and over again, day after day. There is nothing new, nothing exciting about any of these events.

Ed does nothing to set himself apart from any other person. He is simply the same as every other office worker in any other office. Ed is a drone in a bee colony or a worker in an ant farm.As the men are packing for the trip, Dickey uses symbolism to describe Ed’s experience with his son Dean, “it was odd, it was as though they both knew what the knife would do and didn’t know at all, and as he waved it — with the greatest love “…“I was caught in the same curious dance as he, knowing what the knife would do and not believing for a minute”. This opens up speculation as t

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what the knife will be used for. It also gives the reader the feeling that something might happen involving the knife.

When Lewis stopped to pick up Ed, the car was filled with several camping items.Ed begins to think of himself, “If we had an accident and had to be identified by what we carried and wore, we might have been engineers or trappers or surveyors or the advance commandos of some invading force. I knew that I had to live up to the equipment or the trip would be as sad, a joke as everything else”. This tells us that Ed has to live up to a stereotype of outdoorsman, a camper or the manly image set forth by society. Also the phrase, “Invading Force” causes us to believe that Ed knew he was not one with nature and would be considered an outsider by the mountain men.Ed is going on this weekend excursion to hone is survivalist skills.

Lewis a macho man of the 70’s and thinks he can set an example for others. He is the others catalyst. He is dynamic and physically impressive, believes a conditioned body is essential for survival when the machines fail and man take to the hills and start again. Lewis wants to take this journey to prove his manhood. He craves to escape his “humdrum” existence. Lewis sees his escape through canoeing the Cahulawassee River in the north Georgia wilderness, before it is flooded over by the upcoming construction of a dam and lake.

Barnett) The river, now a fierce winding, wild river, it will soon become a huge calm lake. For the weekend these four men will be wild and fierce, but all realize that after the weekend they too, like the river, will become calm and unadventurous. They are past the prime of their life, middle aged men seeking a voyage to prove to them they have not passed their prime. Throughout the novel, tests of self awareness, growth and preservation through violent encounters with wilderness reflect William Faulkner’s “The Bear” and Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”.

Calhoun, 1987) This is the river, the setting, and the time in which man and nature will be in conflict. During this conflict man must forget all civilization and return to the basic human nature and instincts. Man must use knives and bows and test his manhood against nature itself. “Rights of passage,” as the old Indians called it. This is a ritual that every young man looks forward to.

This is when the young brave becomes a warrior. This is when the brave must test himself against the wilderness, the other warriors, and himself.These four were already men, but this was a test of inner bravery, finding the courage to stand up to the unknown. This type of inner conflict is something that everyone deals with.

In the back of our minds we all question do we have what it takes to survive? This is something where an individual must rely on his own resourcefulness during some type of adventure. We all wonder if when it comes down to it can we

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