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Can you give me a summary for "An American Childhood"?

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sugarplum | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 22, 2008 at 11:26 PM via web

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Can you give me a summary for "An American Childhood"?

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lit24 | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted August 23, 2008 at 5:01 PM (Answer #1)

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"An American Childhood"(1987) by Annie Dillard is an autobiography-an account of her own life, hence it would be difficult to summarise it.

Annie Dillard (maiden name Doak) was born in 1945 in Pittsburgh to Frank and Pam Doak. She published her autobiography in 1987 in which she records the events of her life from 1950 to her adolescence.

Her autobiography is not chronological but impressionistic, that is, it is not a day to day accoount of her life but rather a collection of the vivid memories of her childhood and the lasting impressions they left on her mind and how these impressions shaped her psyche.

The book begins with a prologue which reveals to us the two important factors which influenced her life greatly: 1. The Pittsburgh of the 1950s 2. The moment of awakening when her father left home on a river jouney to New Orleans.

Part I of the book deals with her early childhood from 1950 onwards. It gives us all the details of her family life and her childhood activities and the influence of the natural environment.

Part II deals with her life from the age of 10 to 15. In this section she records her impressions on the joys of reading. It also contains an account of her religious experiences.

Part III describes her years of rebellious adolescence just before  she left for college. She tells us how she quit and then rejoined the Church.

The Epilogue contains her adult reflections on her early childhood.

 

 

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