James Dickey's Deliverance during the World War II

Topics: Deliverance, Man, James Dickey Pages: 6 (2394 words) Published: September 29, 2008
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 to 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....

Cited: Barnett, P. E. (n.d.). James Dickey 's Deliverance: Southern, White, Suburban Male Nightmare or Dream Come True? Retrieved October 18, 2007, from Forum for Modern Language Studies: http://fmls.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/short/40/2/145
Calhoun, R. J. (1987). James Dickey (1923- ). In R. J. Calhoun, Fifty Southern Writers After 1900: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook (pp. 136-146). Westport, CT: Greenwood.
Kellman, S. G. (September 1994). Deliverance. In Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Vol. 5. Salem Pr Inc .
Snider, D. C. (2000, January 8). Retrieved Novemeber 2, 2007, from James Dickey 's Deliverance: An American Journey from Innocence to Experience: http://www.csulb.edu/~csnider/dickey.deliverance.html
Thomson Gale, a. p. (2005). James Dickey Biography. Retrieved 10 20, 2007, from Encyclopedia of World Biography: http://www.bookrags.com/biography/james-dickey/
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