Desert Solitaire Analysis

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Barrett 1 Larissa Barrett Brooke Hallinan A.P. English 18 September 2012 Desert Solitaire The Ritual of Two Lovers In his book Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey describes the glorious dance he observed between two gopher snakes. Then living in the desert, Abbey was observing nature when he came across the two snakes and excitedly ran outside to watch them. Though he had seen another gopher snake before, the story continues as he describes what he observed: a ritual of two “lovers”, swaying to unheard music, their passionate embrace and graceful motion instilling stupefaction in the shameless onlooker. As Abbey recounts the awe of the tale of the two snakes dancing, he relies upon the use of several literary devices within his work to…show more content…
He uses the words “paralyzed by wonder” to explain his situation (23). These chosen words are not normally used to describe one's marvel, but in Abbey's case it works. The word paralyzed tends to have a negative connotation since it is typically used to describe bad situations, such as someone afraid and helplessly unable to act. With the word wonder having a positive connotation, it starkly contrasts from its neighboring word. By using “paralyzed by wonder” Abbey must mean that the dance was so fantastic that it captivated him and kept him unable to move (23). It shows his amazement because, though one has a negative connotation which suggests a negative feeling, and the other is positive, they are used to express an action that was so great that he could not stop watching, no matter how bad it was to invade one's privacy. Abbey could not help himself when it came to the snakes and he voiced his shame of himself invading their privacy, yet did not cease his observance. The contrast of the negative and positive connotations of words parallels the contrast of Abbey feeling shameful, yet continuing to watch. In the end, his awe and wonderment were so strong that they prevailed
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