Essays of E. B. White Questions and Answers
by E. B. White

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In "Once More to the Lake", what fresh and vivid imagery does White use to bring life to his abstract ideas, and how does this imagery further the development of ideas? 

White uses fresh and vivid physical descriptions of the cold of the lake water and emotional ruminations on the passage of time and generations. He uses the imagery in the last line to connect physical and emotional discomfort with change. His son experiences the shock of putting on cold clothes, and White seems to realize that he is now the father. He will not be present when his son brings his own son to the lake.

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Many students of writing have stated that "Once More to the Lake," particularly the very last sentence, changed the way that they thought about essay writing:

I watched him, his hard little body, skinny and bare, saw him wince slightly as he pulled up around his vitals the small, soggy, icy garment. As he buckled the swollen belt suddenly my groin felt the chill of death.

This complete blast of fresh, visceral, and contrasting imagery brings to life an idea that is so abstract that it is hard to elaborate on in any other way than by using the quote itself.

The essay concerns White bringing his son to a lakeside camp to which his father had brought him when he was roughly the same age. Throughout the essay, White describes a "dual existence" wherein words he says or actions he carries out seem to not be his own but his father's. In certain moments, he is not only himself, but also his father. At certain points, such as the passage described, he also seems to be his son.

This cyclical nature is...

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