To learn about Brandt’s process of writing this essay, turn to A Writer at Work on pp. 57–62. How did trying out dialogues help Brandt discover the central conflict and significance of her story?

ANNIE DILLARD, professor emerita at Wesleyan University, won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction writing in 1975 with her first book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974). Since then, she has written eleven other books in a variety of genres. They include Teaching a Stone to Talk (1988), The Writing Life (1990), The Living (1993), Mornings Like This (1996), and The Maytrees (2007). Dillard also wrote an autobiography of her early years, An American Childhood (1987), from which the fol-

lowing selection comes. This reading relates an event that occurred one winter morning when the seven-year-

old Dillard and a friend were chased by an adult stranger. Dillard admits that she was terrified at the time, and yet she asserts that she has “seldom been happier since.” As you read, think about how this paradox helps you grasp the autobiographical significance of this experience for Dillard.




mother’s voice. I cried. The tears weren’t for me but for her and the pain I had put

her through. I felt like a terrible human being. I would rather have stayed in jail than

confront my mom right then. I dreaded each passing minute that brought our encounter

closer. When the officer came to release me, I hesitated, actually not wanting to leave.

We went to the front desk, where I had to sign a form to retrieve my belongings. I saw

my parents a few yards away and my heart raced. A large knot formed in my stomach. I

fought back the tears.

Not a word was spoken as we walked to the car. Slowly, I sank into the back seat

anticipating the scolding. Expecting harsh tones, I was relieved to hear almost the

opposite from my father.

“I’m not going to punish you and I’ll tell you why. Although I think what you did

was wrong, I think what the police did was more wrong. There’s no excuse for locking a

thirteen-year-old behind bars. That doesn’t mean I condone what you did, but I think

you’ve been punished enough already.”

As I looked from my father’s eyes to my mother’s, I knew this ordeal was over.

Although it would never be forgotten, the incident was not mentioned again.

account of her father’s reaction? Her mother’s?

How well does this ending work?

Place Your Order Here!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *