James Dickey

’s Deliverance Essay, Research Paper


Squeal like a pig boy!!! This is a line from the movie, its never said in the book, but is probably the only line I will ever remember from Deliverance. Most people have seen or heard about the Beverly Hillbillies and picture hillbillies as good ol’ Jed and Granny Clampet. But in the case of these four middle-aged businessmen a hillbilly is something completely different. In James Dickey’s novel Deliverance, four “city-slickers” decided to take on the largest river in the state of Georgia before a power company dams it up and turns it into a lake. The novel starts off with these men talking about taking an unsure canoe trip and then eventually being talked into by Lewis, the outdoors expert/survivalist and thrill seeker also somewhat the leader of the pack. He convinces Ed, a man who kind of idolizes Lewis due to Lewis’ ability, Bobby, a chubby man who is pretty new to all of this wilderness stuff, and then there is Drew. Drew is like all the others, has a nice suit and tie job and is pretty happy with his life, also he can play a pretty mean guitar. Along the journey these four canoe over rough rapids and find themselves faced with possible murder charges of a local hillbilly. The reason they killed him probably shouldn’t be mentioned due to its sick freakish nature, but since you have already read the book and seen the movie you know what happened. After they buried the body in the woods they continued down the river and found themselves in a gorge with towering rocky sides. As they canoed through the gorge the other perverted hillbilly, the one that escaped, came back with his rifle and at the top of the gorge he was able to shoot and kill Drew. This caused great hysteria and rendered both canoes to capsize which sent everyone and everything racing done the raging river. As everyone tried to regain their control as they went helplessly down the river, Lewis severely shattered his leg and went into somewhat of a shock, then they eventually were able to stop on a somewhat flat rocky surface for coverage. These three men were unable to move from this spot because the hillbilly was up top. So they eventually came to the conclusion that someone had to go to the top and kill him. As Ed climbed the rocky towering sides he felt scared and weak, but this event really changed his life as he was able to reach the top and kill the hillbilly. After another set of rapids like none neither Bobby nor Ed had seen before were mastered they finally arrived at their final destination. After alerting the sheriff of their made up story they eventually returned home to their normal lives only to be changed by these unreal events. But though the events in this novel are startling they helped these men, they now know that being in the wilderness can change your life and help you explore not only the wilderness but yourself too. Near the beginning of the second chapter of the novel Lewis talks about how nature has helped him become one with himself. Lewis mentions that when the system fails and everyone is going frantic he is going to move his family out to the high hills in northern Georgia. He talks about how he believes in survival(47) and that every time he goes back to the wilderness he believes in it more. Lewis is a nature freak that loves to express himself through hunting, fishing, or just taking a canoe trip like he did with his friends. Just being out in the wilderness makes Lewis feel alive. After Lewis found drivers for the cars he raced to the river, speeding faster and faster as the dirt roads led on, much like a young boy waiting to open the first Christmas present. The way Lewis spoke of the river when he first saw it showed a lot too. “There she is,” Lewis said with wide glowing eyes gazing straight head, “Pretty, pretty indeed”(63). He felt very comfortable and part of nature. This was his way of showing that he belongs to something. Ed was kind of a quiet man who enjoyed his life and family as it was and not really looking forward to any new big changes. He primarily idolized Lewis because Lewis was a person who was good at pretty much what ever he did. This canoe trip ended up to mean a lot to Ed, not only did he lose a dear friend and have to kill someone for his own survival, but he also found out who he was and what he could do. The real table turner that changed Ed’s life was the moment when he had to tackle the task of climbing the steep rocky gorge. Ed was a man of about normal muscular size yet not in the greatest shape, so this attempt at climbing the gorge was a real troublesome event for him. This feat was a heroic feat far above Ed’s physical ability yet he had the heart and determination to do what he had to do. After scaling the gorge to the top he waited for the shooter to return. As the shooter came about Ed drew his bow and aimed at the man. He trembled with fear for he had never killed anyone before(144). But after a few seconds and being spotted, Ed let the arrow rip through the air, which caught the hillbilly, but not before he was able to fire off a round, which caused Ed to fall back and land on an arrow which pierced his side. These events helped Ed find himself or at least changed his life dramatically, but do to Ed pushing himself to scale the cliff he found out something he never knew. He has the power to go beyond his normal routine days and accomplish much, much more. Ed has the ability to surpass others and apply himself when most needed.For Bobby, his life was changed a great deal, from his instance with the perverted hillbillies to the dramatic loss of his friend Drew. Bobby was probably the most effected out of the four. Bobby seemed to feel weaker after the event, he seemed to have less confidence in himself. The event of him squealing like a pig kind of gets back at him, because in the beginning of the novel he pokes fun of all the hillbillies to their faces, and who’s laughing now. Though losing a good friend is life changing enough, these three, used to be four, had endured a great deal of humiliation and overcome many obstacles throughout their three day canoe trip. They learned how to survive against the odds and then defeat them. Their events teached everyone something about themselves, and that they are either weak or strong. As for Lewis, in his ideas about moving his family out to the northern Georgia high hills, he probably won’t considering that his weaknesses were revealed after they capsized in their canoe.


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