What is White's argument in his essay, "Once More to the Lake"?

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

E.B. White’s essay “Once More to the Lake” presents an argument for the perpetuation of the cycle of life. As White travels with his son to the lake where he spent his childhood vacations, he documents a variety of emotions and realizations. There are times in the essay when the lines blur between the experiences of White’s father, himself, and his son. The lake has not changed significantly from the time the father vacationed to the time he visits with his son. They fish, swim, boat, and eat in much the same manner in spite of the passage of time yet there are small differences that remind White that time indeed marches on. Simple things like the buggy track now having two tracks for cars instead of three for the horse carriage that picked them up at the train. In addition, the boats on the lake employ outboard motors instead of the quieter inboard motors that powered the boats when he was a child. He says, “We had a good week at the camp. The bass were biting well and sun shone endlessly, day after day.” In spite of this, White is melancholy, as he watches his son buckle on his bathing suit, the author says, “As he buckled the swollen belt suddenly my groin felt the chill of death.” He was feeling his own mortality.