An American Childhood Annie Dillard Summary

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We all have people we admire in our life and Annie Dillard, who wrote An American Childhood, admired her mother. The personal qualities that Dillard admires from her mother include her love for words, her love for gags, her intelligence and her desire to make her own stand despite what everyone else says. Dillard shows this love by telling many stories about when her mother would exhibit these qualities.

Her mother’s love for words and jokes was important to Dillard as we can see in her first story: as her father watches a baseball game, her mother overhears a phrase – “Terwilliger bunts one”. Her mother finds the phrase humorous and makes it a running joke in the following years – often saying “Terwilliger bunts one” when needing to test a microphone (132). When she writes about her mother’s love for words, she uses positive words, like “thrill” and “stirred” to describe her mother’s actions towards words, showing that she
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She had a strong opinion that people who lived in trailer parks were just poor people, not bad people, despite any opposition she might have (136). She also demanded that her daughters make their own opinions on the world surrounding them and not let others influence their opinion (137). Dillard approaches this trait with an air of ambivalence. While the trait is important to her, she does not exactly see it as a positive factor, saying that after coming home and declaring that Eisenhower would win the election, “I was doomed. It was fatal to say, ‘Everyone says so.’” (137)

To conclude, Dillard’s mother was an important person in her life, as she shows throughout many anecdotes in her writing. She looks at her mother’s love for jokes and words with admiration and her desire for uniqueness with an air of ambivalence. The things her mother taught her stayed with her through adulthood and shaped her as a

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