How would you sum up the mother’s personality in An American Childhood?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

An American Childhood is a memoir written by American author Annie Dillard . Annie’s mother, Pam Doaks, is a housewife and loving mother who belongs to the upper class of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. However, she is not like the other women in her social circle. Pam is a vivacious, strong, intelligent,...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

An American Childhood is a memoir written by American author Annie Dillard. Annie’s mother, Pam Doaks, is a housewife and loving mother who belongs to the upper class of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. However, she is not like the other women in her social circle. Pam is a vivacious, strong, intelligent, funny, and passionate woman. But, as a woman in the 1950s, she is never able to realize her true potential. Despite this, she is very happy and finds joy in whatever she does. Pam loves to joke and play games with her children, teaching them how to tell jokes correctly and how to play poker. She is also opinionated and passionate about social justice and fights for the rights of the poor and the working class—despite this being an unpopular viewpoint among her wealthy peers. Pam is much more left-wing than her husband, Frank, who is a middle-of-the-road conservative. Annie loves and admires her mother and wants to be like her, although she does not want to be trapped in the same restrictive life. She writes:

Mother's energy and intelligence suited her for a great role in a larger arena—mayor of New York, say—than the one she had. She followed American politics closely; she had been known to vote for Democrats. She saw how things should be run, but she had nothing to run but our household. Even there, small minds bugged her; she was smarter than the people who designed the things she had to use all day for the length of her life.

It is seeing the limitations put on her curious, bright, and creative mother that drives Annie to fight for gender equality.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team