In An American Childhood, how does Dillard introduce readers to the setting? What aspects of the setting seem most basic in Dillard's growth as a person who notices her surroundings, a skill that's...

In An American Childhood, how does Dillard introduce readers to the setting? What aspects of the setting seem most basic in Dillard's growth as a person who notices her surroundings, a skill that's been critical to her successful writing career?

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xmcmillin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dillard seems to have had a typical, idyllic suburban middle-class upbringing. This might seem unremarkable, but what is remarkable is the way that Dillard, even as a child, interpreted her surroundings. The ability to identify with other people at such a young age hinted at her eventual success as a writer.

There are two main aspects of the setting that are instrumental in Dillard's ability to register her surroundings and contemplate them. The first is the relationship she has with the neighborhood kids. She notices they are all different and have distinct personalities, and she wonders what makes them tick.

The second, arguably more important aspect is her parents. As she grows up, she realizes that they, like all people, are deeply flawed. This discovery of an essential similarity between all human beings is very influential on Dillard's growth as a person and as a writer.

abajrami | Student

Anne Dillard takes us back in time in her writing of An American Childhood. In this, she introduces the readers to the childhood fun of playing sports (football, baseball) with the neighborhood boys.  These early joys of care-free living, running around the streets, playing and having fun.  She then describes the day where she and the boys, unable to play sports during the winter months, spent time throwing snowballs at the passing cars.  Not caring about the dangers or consequences of throwing these snowballs until one day the car decides to stop.  Dillard then describes the ensuing chase by the driver.  

Dillard, in her skills at a writer, describes the setting in terms of playing sports and how those sports need a plan and a path.  This basic connection is what drives writers in their pursuit to tell a story.  They too must lay out a plan, taking the reader on an detailed plan, full of details and scenes.  At the end, Dillard, is happy about the chase, and how she has never been happier.  This too could be said for her developing a sense of herself and her writing career.