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“The Chase” Annie Dillard.

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1 “The Chase” Annie Dillard

2 About the Selection The portrait of childhood beautifully captures the energy and idealism of youth. It originally appeared as a chapter in An American Childhood (1987), which one reviewer described as being “less about a coming-to-age than about a coming-to-consciousness…”

3 About the Selection The narration of the chase itself (paras ) is an excellent model for narrative writing. Dillard uses rhetorical devices, such as asyndeton, repetition, and use of the plural in paragraph 13, to vary the narration and to make the chase seem endless.

4 Asyndeton Asyndeton – the omission of conjunctions between related clauses, for example “I came, I saw, I conquered.”

5 About the Selection The story is also a good example of how narration can be used in the service of a larger theme, with implications that go beyond the event recounted. Dillard does more than simply tell a story; she makes an interesting observation about the death of enthusiasm.

6 Meaning What is Dillard’s purpose in her essay?
Dillard wants to show (inform) how a harmless chase can take on epic proportions in the mind of a child. She wants to point out valuable qualities of childhood lost in adulthood: energy and wholeheartedness.

7 Meaning Does the persistence of the pursuer seem reasonable to you, given the children’s prank? No, this driver is exceptional, the only one who has ever left his car (par. 9).

8 Meaning What does the pursuer represent for the narrator?
The pursuer is the only adult the narrator has encountered who “knew what I thought only children who trained at football knew; that you have to fling yourself at what you’re doing, you have to point yourself, forget yourself, aim, dive” (par. 13).

9 Meaning How do her feelings about him change after the chase is over, and why? At the end of the chase, he comes “down to earth” (par. 19), addressing the children in the banal, perfunctory tones of an ordinary adult. Dillard is disillusioned because of the gap between her ideals and reality.

10 Meaning Why does Dillard describe the “chewing out,” seemingly the object of the chase, as “redundant, a mere formality, and beside the point” (par. 19)? Nothing can live up to the glorious moment that was the chase. The pursuer had resumed the role of just another adult, parroting the words all adults are required to say at that moment.

11 Writing Strategy Why does Dillard open her story with a discussion of football? Football is a metaphor for life in the story. From football to baseball to snowball throwing---baseball is a logical link between football and snowball throwing, in which the throwing arm is all-important.

12 Writing Strategy In what way does the game serve as a metaphor in the story? The football metaphor indicates the life lesson that Dillard learned from playing sports. Everything you do, you have to tackle, giving 100 percent of yourself.

13 Writing Strategy Why does Dillard interrupt the story of the chase with an “immense discovery” (par. 13)? This is the story’s epiphany, where Dillard explains the larger meaning the chase was to take on.

14 Writing Strategy Is Dillard’s point of view that of a seven-year-old girl, or that of an adult writer reflecting on her childhood experience? Dillard’s seamless narration combines the articulateness and sophistication of an adult interpreter with a child’s view of events taking place.

15 Writing Strategy Dillard’s story implicitly compares and contrasts a child’s and an adult’s way of looking at life. What are some of the differences that Dillard implies? Adults are lazy and take shortcuts. “Any normal adult would have quit, having sprung us into flight and made his point” (par. 10).

16 Cont’d Unlike children playing football, adults are unwilling to fling themselves “wholeheartedly” (par. 1) into things. With their normal “righteous anger” and “usual common sense” (par. 20), they are victims of habit and routine.

17 Cont’d Children are willing to go all out; they know that life is “all or nothing” (par. 1).

18 Language Explain the contradiction: “I got in trouble throwing snowballs, and have seldom been happier since” (par. 2). Dillard portrays childhood as a time of confusion and contradiction.

19 Language What are some other examples of paradox in paragraphs 5, 14, and 16? The children, though playing together, exhibit a “natural solitude” (par. 5). While being chased, they are at once “exhilarated” and “dismayed” (par. 14).

20 Cont’d The man chasing them is referred to as “our pursuer, our captor,” and “our hero” (par. 16).

21 Language What is the effect of the last sentence of the essay?
It indicates how long and complicated the chase was, and helps bring the pursuer back to earth. It is also anticlimactic after the imaginative tale about the Panama Canal. It is a typical, banal “adult” question.

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