The passage from Annie Dillard’s An American Childhood extracted for the analysis depicts a scene in which a seven year old Annie and her friends throw snowballs at a stranger and find themselves being chased by this man for some considerable time. Annie’s mother is not a…
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The statement “[s]ome boys taught me to play football” reveals that the child is at a stage of her development when she listens to advice of her peers and not just her mother (Dillard 16). Also, there is an interesting departure from her prescribed gender role since the paragraph ends up with the comment “nothing girls did could compare with it” (Dillard 17).
The author mentions also that her parents approved of some of the local boys but not all of them. Annie reports this in a matter of fact way, without further comment, but the reader can discern an element of social class behind this situation. Putting together the strict gender roles expected of Annie and the implied disapproval of ‘rough’ boys, the reader can deduce that Annie’s mother is rather old-fashioned and perhaps somewhat prim and protective of her daughter. She does not want Annie to mix with certain boys. Annie, on the other hand, finds the boys exciting and knowingly disregards her mother’s advice.
As for the technique used, the author preferred to present the narrative through Annie’s eyes but to include in it some of her mother’s prejudices and insights so that the reader sees more of the child’s world than the child herself could understand at that moment. This is a subtle feature of autobiography, which allows the child’s view to come through an adult narrator’s voice which adds a dual insight into the events that are related in the story.
Dillard, Annie. “An American Childhood” (extract). A Guide To Reading Autobiography: 16-26. Web. 11 Oct. 2012.
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