Analysis Of Annie Dillard 's ' For The Time Being ' Essay
15 December 2014
“For the Time Being” by Annie Dillard is an individual account that investigates issues such as “What is the meaning of life? What is spirit? How can death be understood?” Two selected passages feature Emperor Qin Shi Huang of early China and his perspectives on death and eternal life and spirit, which parallel human thoughts on such topics. The assessments of Emperor Qin on mortality and immortality are cultural properties that have a strong impact on Annie Dillard’s work.
In the vignette “Evil”, Dillard depicts the triumphs of Emperor Qin Shi Huang: “He standardized laws, weights, carriage widths…” (55). “Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China and founder of the short-lived Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC.), was a man of remarkable talents and achievements. His military conquests were in part the result of a superb mastery of the newest arts of war”(University of Pittsburgh). Through a collection of triumphs, the reader is able to understand that he made China more prosperous, and deduce that he thought of himself much more favorably than others. “The emperor longed… to swallow the world.” (55) expresses that he had colossal plans to accomplish—death could not get in the way. To compare, Dillard recalls that “he built the clay army and buried its thousands of men to guard his afterlife.” (55), a concept found previously in the narrative. This figurative motif illustrates the perception that humans are one…