The Loss of Wonder: Growing Up in Annie Dillard's 'An American Childhood

Categories: Annie Dillard

In the book An American Childhood, Annie Dillard tells many different stories throughout her life to support her main purpose. Dillard’s purpose in this book is to show us how we look at everything thing in an aw when we are young, but once we reach a certain age, life just hits us and we don’t see anything in an aw anymore once we reach adulthood. In part one, Dillard shows us her life through her eyes and how she sees everything in that aw.

She tells us how amazing it is to find the dime in the dark alley that she believes is an awesome place. If Dillard was to walk through this same ally in part three of this book, she probably wouldn’t care about the alley because she doesn’t see anything in an aw anymore. As Dillard gets older, different things appeal to her eyes when she is wondering the streets. In part one, she was so interested in the dime from the dark alley, and then in part two, Dillard was curious about the strand man with beer in the back of his truck and the morse code.

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As the book goes on, Dillard develops a stronger meaning in life and has a wider vocabulary selection. When reading the three different parts in the book, you can see the change in age because her stories seem to not be as happy because she isn’t living in that aw life.

Dillard celebrates just living life, the wonders of the world and what amazing things it has to offer.

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She shows us how we perceive those possibilities as we are young and when we become older, what nature the world can be as we explore it. In Part three Dillard because a whole new person, or so she thinks. She loses all the aw she had as a child and realized how she can make her own decisions in life, she doesn’t have to listen to anyone and she didn’t like that. Dillard states “I was growing and thinning, as if pulled. I was getting angry, as if pushed. I morally disapproved most things in North America, and blamed my innocent parents for them. My feelings deepened and lingered. The swift moods of early childhood-each formed by and suited to its occasion-vanished. Now feelings lasted so long they left stains” (Dillard 2220). Dillard didn’t feel the support to help her in decision making from her parents anymore and she disliked that. During this “chapter”, Dillard really takes the turn for the worst and starts to make some bad decisions. She tells us how “ She couldn’t remember how to forget herself”( Dillard 224). This shows how life hit her like a brick wall and she isn’t seeing life in an aw now and she doesn’t like a single second of it.

Updated: Nov 20, 2023
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The Loss of Wonder: Growing Up in Annie Dillard's 'An American Childhood. (2016, Apr 08). Retrieved from

The Loss of Wonder: Growing Up in Annie Dillard's 'An American Childhood essay
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