What is the connection Dillard makes between playing football and being chased for throwing a snowball in An American Childhood?  

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In the memoir An American Childhood, Annie Dillard writes about growing up in the neighborhood of Point Breeze in Pittsburg. In one chapter, she recalls the thrill of playing football and throwing snowballs with a group of boys. About football, she says that "nothing girls did could compare with...

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In the memoir An American Childhood, Annie Dillard writes about growing up in the neighborhood of Point Breeze in Pittsburg. In one chapter, she recalls the thrill of playing football and throwing snowballs with a group of boys. About football, she says that "nothing girls did could compare with it."

What Dillard appreciates about football is the necessity of total abandonment to the game. She has to give herself wholeheartedly to the sport to be able to help her team win. "It was all or nothing." If she hesitates through fear, she can get badly hurt, but if she tries her best, she can help her team win.

But if you flung yourself wholeheartedly at the back of his knees—if you gathered and joined body and soul and pointed them fearlessly—then you likely wouldn't get hurt, and you'd stop the ball.

One weekday morning after Christmas, when Dillard is seven years old, she is with a group of boys who are throwing snowballs at cars. Unexpectedly, one of the cars stops, and the driver starts chasing the children. Dillard expects him to give up after a few blocks, but he continues on relentlessly, even though she and the boy she is running with go around and under all sorts of obstacles. She connects the way this man is pursuing them with the persistence and wholeheartedness required while playing football.

It was an immense discovery, pounding into my hot head with every sliding, joyous step, that this ordinary adult evidently knew what I thought only children that trained at football knew: that you have to fling yourself at what you're doing, you have to point yourself, forget yourself, aim, dive.

The chase of Dillard and her friend by the driver is so exciting and exhilarating, in fact, that when the man catches the children, it is anticlimactic.

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Annie Dillard shows many similarities between her time as a football player and the event where she is chased down by a man after throwing a snowball at his car. Annie is a girl who plays football, which means she had to show extreme toughness and grit—more so than even her male teammates, because she is automatically overlooked because of her gender. So, she shows an extreme dedication and a don't-quit attitude when it comes to football.

In the same way, she feels a thrill of excitement when she is running from the man who's chasing her after the snowball incident. She perseveres and shows a resolve that is unmatched, because she wants to prove that she is capable of escaping. Even though she is caught, she impresses the man who had chased her. Constantly, Annie proves that she can be as successful and athletic as the boys in her life, and football and the snowball are both instances that show that resolve.

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There are many comparisons in the story between Annie playing football and the story of being chased after throwing the snowball at a man's car. Annie describes her time playing football as pushing herself and flinging her all into it (frequently mentioning that it's "all or nothing"), and the snowball story echoes that idea.

After throwing the snowball, Annie has to run from the man who begins chasing them. She describes the event much the same way—she has to go all or nothing, because if she lets up, the man will catch her. She also echoes the idea of flinging herself into it, like she does the tackles she makes in football. As she throws herself forward, she is able to elude the man for quite some time. There is a thrill and exhilaration in the event that reminds her of football as well.

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In the story, Dillard described playing football as "It was all or nothing" (Dillard). When she learned to play, she was taught that she had to put everything into the game so that her team would win. She goes on to talk about tackling on the field. "But if you flung yourself wholeheartedly at the back of his knees - if you gathered and joined body and soul and pointed them diving fearlessly - then you likely wouldn't get hurt, and you'd stop the ball" (Dillard).

After throwing the snowball at the car, the man gets out and chases Dillard and her friends. She knows she has to escape, or at least try her best, just as she does in the game. As the kids split up, he chooses her (probably because she was the only girl) and gives chase. She knows that to escape, she will have to push herself just as she does on the field. She pushes herself until she can no longer run, and gains respect for the man as he refuses to give up. The chase goes on for paragraphs, through so many backyards and homes, until he catches her. But she knows that she "...flung herself wholeheartedly..." (Dillard) into her escape, and that she did her best.

There are more comparisons, but this should get you started. Look to the link below for more help with the story.

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