An American Childhood

by Annie Dillard

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Who is the intended audience for An American Childhood by Annie Dillard?

Quick answer:

The intended audience of An American Childhood is everyone who has gone through the experience of growing up, becoming aware of themselves, and experiencing everything that is typical of growing up in the USA.

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I would argue that Dillard reveals her intended audience in the epilogue of her fantastic autobiography, where she reveals that what matters is not her story but the experience of "coming awake." Since everybody goes through this experience in some form or another, it makes the coming-of-age stories that are told in this book applicable and relevant to everyone. In other words, the intended audience of this book is everybody.

While everyone's childhood and adolescence is unique, many children can relate to memories of fearing monsters in their bedroom at night. In Dillard's case, she thinks there is a monster until she realizes that it is just headlights shining through her window. Everyone can relate to this feeling or to a similar memory.

Similarly, everyone can relate to the frustration, anger, and passion that Dillard experiences during her teenage years. Rebellion comes naturally during Dillard's teenage years, as it does to so many of us. She quits church, takes up smoking, and gets suspended from school, which are experiences which will be easy for many readers to relate to.

This book is arguably not so much about the specific experiences that Dillard goes through, but about the universal experience of maturing and "waking up" to the realities of the world. Even the generic title of this autobiography—An American Childhood—lends itself to relevance to a wide variety of people.

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