It is easy to associate a raven with something sinister. They are an ominous symbol which might come to mind when one thinks of death. Even their call is uncomfortable, a chilling croak rather than the obnoxious caw of their relative the crow. Terry Tempest Williams’ choice of using ravens to title chapter eight as such reflects some of the chapter’s contents. Williams immediately establishes the death looming over her life by navigating through her mother at the doctor. But ravens serve another function in this section.
Ravens have a silky, smooth, and dark coat of feathers that mimic the night. This similarity is brought out in the account of Williams’ grandparents. The title of this chapter also discusses her grandparents “fall[ing] in love on moonlit nights at Saltair” (Williams 80). With this Williams moves from the darker conception of ravens towards a more positive description, with the darkness of night serving as the backdrop for romance, a departure from the illness discussed earlier. With this, she establishes a complex understanding of the bird portraying it as a source of both good and bad, suggesting that this moment in her life is multifarious like the Corvid which the title is named after.