An American Childhood

by Annie Dillard

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How does the phrase "I got in trouble for throwing snowballs and have seldom been happier since" fit into the theme of the incident in An American Childhood?

"I got in trouble for throwing snowballs and have seldom been happier since."

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This scene as described by Annie Dillard in her memoir An American Childhood is a popular one for secondary school literature anthologies because it describes in detail something many kids are familiar with and most kids will be interested in:  throwing at, or yelling at, passing cars, for the thrill of waiting to see if the driver will stop to protest.  In this case, the heavily iced snowball hits a gentleman's windshield right in the middle of it, and today, for whatever reason, this gentleman stops, and when the mischievous youngsters run, he chases them.  

Dillard describes the scene in breathtaking detail; the snow, the yards, the scattering of the kids, her difficulty catching her breath as she runs as hard as she can, amazed, yet impressed at the man's perseverance, her fear and adrenaline when the man finally catches the kids and yells at them, opening with the line "You stupid kids" and continuing on for awhile, although Dillard admits to not really listening.  Instead, she was thinking about the adventure that had just unfolded on an otherwise uneventful day out of school, playing in the snow:  "The point was that he had chased us passionately without giving up and so he had caught us.  Now he came down to earth.  I wanted the glory to last forever."

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