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An American Childhood

Annie Dillard illustrates how to write a biographical research paper in her book An American Childhood. In order to assist college students with their English writing projects, Paper Masters provides this sample of how to write a biographical paper much like Dillard did in her book. Note the ease and style of the paragraphs below.

An American Childhood

Annie Dillard's American Childhood

Annie Dillard perfectly captured the essence of youth in An American Childhood, when she describes her slow awakening to the world. The structure of childhood, and perhaps even more so adolescence, is so self-centered and narcissistic that it’s difficult to focus outwardly. A child begins to recognize the influence of external forces on his life, but it’s a long time before he recognizes the effects he can have on others or begins to understand interactions between people and the world.  I guess I don’t see that my experiences with nature and the environment are any different than my experiences with a large variety of things. These issues have been around since long before I was born, but for much of my early life I was insensitive to them. Since adolescence I have had an increasing awareness of the world, of nature and the environment as entities outside of my personal sphere of functioning. As in most areas of my life, I find that these concerns are increasingly more important to me, and I feel a greater responsibility to become involved with ecological initiatives. I am also much more likely to recognize and participate in the environmental initiatives that exist in my community.

Ecology and American Childhood

I guess some people would question how even a child could be unaware of environmental issues growing up in San Francisco. In a city that produces over three-billion pounds of refuse a year, where the air is contaminated with smoke, haze, dust, odors and toxic compounds and where oil spills have been happening routinely since before I was born, it seems like I should have been innately aware of the fact that my environment was, at least in some measures, in disarray. However, I don’t remember thinking about these things much as a child. They were there, but didn’t register on my radar.

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