An American Childhood Essay, Research Paper
Based on Peter S. Hawkins’ Review
An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard, is a happy memoir of
Annie’s own life, a child of a well-to-do Pittsburgh family.
Dillard remembers much of her childhood and doesn’t hesitate to tell us
a bit of it. Author Flannery O’Conner once said, “any novelist who
could survive her childhood had enough to write about for a lifetime.”
This was most certainly the case for Dillard.
A person’s childhood is something that cannot be forgotten.
From grandparents telling their grandchildren about when they
were their age, to criminals pleading that their childhood caused them
to become evil, our first years are our most important. Annie Dillard
certainly remembered her childhood.
It is clear that what Dillard tells us about her life is true.
It is easy to classify Dillard as an avid reader as she
constantly mentions all her books. “As a child I read hoping to learn
everything, so I could be like my father,” Dillard said on page 214.
An American Childhood is extremely interesting and
entertaining. Having taken place in modern times, Dillard was
born in 1945 and the story begins when she is five, it is something we
can all follow and appreciate as Dillard climbs her way through
We, the readers, watch as Annie emerges from a typical five
year old to the crazy, intelligent, independent young woman she
becomes. Each year is a footstep with new adventures and new
philosophies of the world around her. It is hard not to laugh as Annie
does such crazy acts as quitting church at age 16 and writing her
minister a fierce letter.
An American Childhood is not a book for a person without an
imagination. As a reader you must be willing to interpret what
Dillard says and fit into your own life and your own childhood. We can
all relate to her feelings and frustrations, and like Holden Caulfield
in Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Annie Dillard lets the reader
know how she feels about everything and everyone, no matter how that
An American Childhood is a great book that is guaranteed to
entertain even the pickiest of readers. It is amazing how
through her writing and her own memories, Annie Dillard can bring back
so many childhood memories of our own.