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Updike Review

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Submitted By uknow1
Words 484
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John Updike’s essay Pigeon Feathers is what I’d call a story that’s filled with descriptive passionate thought. The author’s detail of every scene places the reader in the rise and fall of every setting of the story. For example, Updike presents the setting of the story with specific the details of the furniture,
“The blue wing chair that had stood for years in the ghostly, immaculate guest bedroom, gazing through the windows curtained with dotted swiss toward the telephone wires and horse-chestnut trees and opposite houses was here established, importantly in front of the smutty little fire place that supplied, in those first cold April days, their only heat.”
I believe this may have been the longest sentence in the essay, but nevertheless, I appreciate Updike’s detail.

In John Updike’s essay Pigeon Feathers David is overcome with a personal mission the find out what happens to people after death. I believe that the internal questions verbalized to Rev. Dobson from David were aided by his perceptions of the soul shaped by his findings. His anxiety with the past gives understanding of his growing fear of death; after all, our relationship to the past is largely a relationship with people and things that are now gone. David doesn't even like to dwell on the "gulf of time" in his parents' lives before they had him (p 262). This attitude could have been partially influenced by His father who also had a fear of returning to, what he called, the “dark ages” because of his fear of natural farming (p 265) David’s quest to understand death and the afterlife is agitated by his father’s nonchalant response to his mother as he felt death was a “wonderful thing”(p 270). With not much help from his mother, he is pushed into frustration and a deeper pursuit to understand death and the afterlife.

Interesting enough, is the way David comes to his resolve concerning death and the afterlife. Although David was more like his father in religious conviction, which his father, being a church-goer, and himself, a seeker of truth, may have been an influence to His rest in the truth of an after life. Updike uses personification to convey how real God was shown to be to David. David’s examination of the pigeon feathers was like an arrow that pointed straight to God. What seemed to be so long a journey to find life, was seen through acts of death. So many times in our lives we need and answer like David. “God showed himself to David as Updike states God had lavished such craft upon these worthless birds would not destroy his own creation by refusing to let David live forever” (p 273).

Work Cited

Updike, John. "Pigeon Feathers."
Strategies for Reading and Writing. Eds. William
R. Epperson, Linda C. Gray, and Mark R. Hall.
Dubuque, IA:Kendall/Hunt, 1999. 261-274. Print.

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