An American Childhood Critical Reading Portfolio Entry Section l: Significance of Title The title is significant because many of the aspects of Annie DillardS growing up were uniquely American. Things such as the freedom to do certain things as well as the conditions in which everyone lived were characteristics that were not adopted worldwide. The title is also important because much of the book encompassed Annie’s childhood and the process that she followed in her growing up and discovering herself. Section II: Author The author Is Annie Dillard and the book directly concerns her because It Is a story about her childhood.
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It discusses the problems that Annie had growing up as well as many of the unique features that Annie Dillard possessed as a child. These topics include Annie’s less common interests, such as rock and bird collecting, and her very individual perspectives on things such as living and how to truly enjoy and savor your life. Section Ill: Setting The book Is set In the 1950’s to the 1960’s In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During this time racism is present, but it is not glaringly obvious due to the Dillard’s location in the northern united States. During the time of the book Pittsburgh is also experiencing significant growth.
Technology and manufacturing are also progressing significantly during this time. These facts are important to the story because the childhood of Annie Dillard would not have been the same without her unique experiences In this particular moment in time for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The setting of the book is not very easily related to the time it was written because so many things had changed after the content of the book. Annie Dillard has graduated college, Pittsburgh has changed, African Americans have gained equal rights, and technology has moved incredibly far since the context of the story to the writing of he book.
Section ‘V: Plot The exposition of An American Childhood begins with Annie Dillard and her family all llvlng together in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania In the 1 95CYs. The Inltlal Incident occurs when Annie discovers that what she thought was aghost was merely a reflection of light. The rising action then progresses through most of Annie’s childhood as she experiences various events. This Includes moving, the death of her grandfather, and her interest in so many different topics. Throughout the rising action, these topics of interest changed frequently.
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They includedthings such as bird watching, rock ollecting, bug collecting, reading, art, and the spectacle of nature. The climax of the story Is reached when Annie Dillard reaches her teenage years. At this point In her life, Annie becomes much more independent and has formulated a much more well developed view of herself and the world around her. The falling action includes most of the rebellious stage of Annie’s life such when she was suspended for smoking and when she got injured drag racing. However, the falling action also includes innocent things such as her affinity for certain boys and her maintained love of the arts.
The resolution Is reached when Annie Is accepted Into college and seems to have come to This story is told from the first person point of view of Annie Dillard, the author. This is important because nobody else in the novel ever expressed similar beliefs to that of Annie. The first person perspective allowed for the reader to comprehend many of Annie’s thoughts because you follow her thought process for most events. This point of view also allowed for the reader to experience the things that Annie Dillard did as a child more fluently because they were explained and validated with he reader through Annie’s mind.
The first person point of view also made the novel feel more personal and relatable. This allowed for many more of the lessons that were taught to Annie to be taught to the reader as well. However, Annie’s somewhat sporadic thought process did complicate the novel. Section VI: Characterization Annie Dillard is the main character and author of the book. She is a physically average girl who is constantly searching for knowledge and understanding of the world around her. She has lived in Pittsburgh throughout her childhood and seen it nd its residents change over time. Pan Lambert Doak is Annie’s mother.
She is a loving woman and a Jokester. She is always trying to make sure her family is happy and safe. Frank Doak is Annie’s father. He is a knowledgeable man as well as a jokester. He works hard and travels to New Orleans to provide income for his family. He always does what he thinks is best for his family and is very honest with Annie throughout the book. Oma is Annie’s acentric grandmother. She is described as having an odd fashion sense. This is one of the superficial sources of conflict between Oma and Annie’s mother. Oma lives on the lake and is actually quite wealthy.
She genuinely loves her grandchildren and seems to enjoy every second she can have with them. Amy is Annie’s younger sister. She is often described by Annie as being beautiful, composed, and smart. She also has curly hair. Annie often shows a sort of reverence for Amy’s great qualities. Section VI’: Theme The first major theme is independence and the fact that it is crucial for every person to express it to a certain degree. This theme becomes very evident throughout the book as Annie begins to learn to express herself and ignore the pinions of others.
As time progresses, Annie becomes more independent and does what she feels appropriate in most situations. The second major theme is time and the necessary awareness of it. If you aren’t conscious of the world around you, time will slip away. This theme is developed as Annie Dillard progresses through her many different experiences, each one teaching her something and making her more aware and knowledgeable of the world around her. This theme is important to Annie because she seems to cherish time and acts in ways so that she may savor every moment and experience everything.
Section VIII: Symbol & Literary Devices An important metaphor in this book is that being alive is like being under a waterfall. This metaphor enforces the theme of time perfectly. The water running by is the time running slipping by you. If you aren’t aware of it, the experience will all pass by quickly. This metaphor made it much easier for me to realize and understand the theme of time within the novel. It also gave me a more personal, physical way of thinking about the passing of time. Section ‘X: Quotes Annie: “What does it feel like to be alive? Living, you stand under a waterfall…
It is generation’s short time falling away as fast as rivers drop through air, and feeling it hit. ” (150). This quote directly connects to the theme of time and your awareness of it. Time is described as constantly passing you by; you have to become aware of it passing you or else you will get too caught up in the whole experience. Annie: mfou can’t test courage cautiously, so I ran hard and waved my arms hard, happy. ” (108). This quote is Annie discovering the second theme, independence. She learned to express herself out of raw emotion, despite what others might think of her.
This oment in particular was when she “flew’ down the sidewalk, flapping her arms. However, this resulted in her discovering the happiness and content she could achieve as a result of expressing herself so freely. Annie: “It was all or nothing. If you hesitated in fear, you would miss and get hurt… But if you flung yourself wholeheartedly at the back of the knees… then you likely wouldn’t get hurt, and you’d stop the ball. ” (45). This quote is from the time that the boys taught Annie to play football, how to tackle in particular. In the process of doing so, they also taught Annie n important lesson on courage as well.
If you lacked courage, you would not succeed. You have to give all you have into everything you do if you want to be successful. Section X: Response I enjoyed An American Childhood to a very limited degree. This is because there were so many parts of the book where it was difficult to discern even a plot, I became lost in the details and lost sight of the bigger picture. I was dissapointed in particular by the sporadic nature of the book at some times. As a reader, I prefer purpose and a set plot. The freedom of thought in this book simply confused me.
I would not recommend this book to an average child, but to an adult, who is a sufficiently strong reader, who is searching for a book that will convey them a strong message. This book is connected to the world I live in in a few ways. First I am an American and I live in America, Just like Annie. Many other children and I are also going through the process of finding ourselves and discovering our goals, as Annie was. Finally, Annie went through the typical stages of childhood, Just as other children currently are. This includes things such as the quest for knowledge and the rebellious stages of life.See More on Dillard