In the Distance Short Essay - Answer Key

Hernan Diaz
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1. Describe the striking opening image of In the Distance.

The untitled prologue begins with the striking image of a single hand emerging from a jagged hole in an expanse of ice. The man who climbs out is described as being so large in size that he is barely human. He wields an ax and when he stretches to his full standing height, the man makes the huge ax look like a minuscule toy.

2. In what location does the prologue of the novel take place?

The prologue of In the Distance takes place in frigid and ice-filled waters near Alaska. A ship has become wedged in the ice during its journey. One of the ship's passengers, an extremely large man, climbs onto the ice and returns to the ship.

3. What is distinctive about the large man's coat and what conclusions are drawn about it?

The narrator describes the large man's coat, naming a score of animals whose hides together make up the garment. It is obvious, too, that the coat has been skillfully but visibly patched over time with the use of subsequent hides. Viewers of the coat are said to be able to detect both the length of the wearer's journey and the impressive nature of his sewing skills.

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