Annie Dillard

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In the course of her memoir An American Childhood, Annie Dillard combines images and memories of her life with various reflections from her adult self. Her memoir spreads from early youth when she has not yet “awakened” until her later life as a teen struggling with coming to terms with the world around her and the society she lives in. Throughout the course of her memoir, Dillard presents the world through a slightly pessimistic point of view as a way to highlight the complexities and reality of life growing up in America. With her use of reflection on the events of her life, Dillard is able to strengthen her message of the complexities of life in America. Dillard often comes back to this strategy of reflection as a way to help show a better …show more content…

In one of her memories, Dillard goes into describing a moth that her class had kept. They let it go, and Dillard remembers how it “crawled down the driveway toward the rest of Shadyside, an area of fine houses, expensive apartments, and fashionable shops. It crawled down the driveway because it’s shriveled wings were glued shut” (161). The words she chooses such as “fine”, “expensive”, and “fashionable” cast a stark contrast between the image of the crippled moth with its “shriveled wings”. This grim picture only highlights her pessimistic view on her society. The neighborhood has wealth, but they treat this innocent and vulnerable creature like a pathetic waste of space. Dillard may even relate to this creature. One may be struggling with life and coming to terms with the world, but her society is too engrossed in its own image and wealth to take a moment to care for those struggling. Similar to this situation, Dillard describes how “AT SCHOOL [they] memorized a poem: Where we live and work today / Indian children used to play– / All about our native land / Where the shops and houses stand” (123). The poem itself continues this idea of how society masks it’s darker parts. This historical reflection of using the Indians is similar to that of the moth. Both were left behind by society because the world was too concerned with itself and its wealth. What is different about this reflection is Dillard’s capitalization of “AT SCHOOL”. She makes it apparent that she learned this poem in school which is a part of society. Though the overall tone is pessimistic, the addition of this only makes it slightly so. It gives the illusion that there is a chance for society to help children understand reality, but then again, it only makes their lives more complex once they have finally understood how harsh the world

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