American Childhood

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In the except from "An American Childhood" by Annie Dillard, a young Protestant girl apparently living near a Catholic school, St.Bede's, describes here view of the school children and the nuns. As the narrator goes on you can tell she has prejudged these people based on things she has heard, not from her own experience. She states, "From the other Protestants children, I gathered St.Bede's was a cave where Catholic children had to go to fill there brow- and tan workbooks in the dark, possible kneeling; they wrote down what the Pope said. Every afternoon, authorities "let out" the surviving children to return to their lightless steep houses, where they knelt before writhing crucifixes, bandied racial epithets about, and ate stewed fish." Clearly this is not the case, however, based on rumors and lies the girl had the image of the Catholic community stuck in her head. Because of this image, she had a fear of interacting with them, and therefore, although she saw them often, never spoke to them.

Another way I could tell that the girl had pre-judged these people is that when she saw the nuns walking together, she id not even she them as individuals, but more like a heard of faceless, fake people. The child's mother, being sick of this fear and misconception, decided one day to walk her daughter over to the nuns and politely ask them to speak to her, which they did. However, upon seeing the nuns up close, she wrote," I saw the white conical billboards they had as mock up heads; I couldn't avoid seeing them, those white boards like pillories with circles cut out and some bunched human flesh pressed like raw pie crust into holes." This was a horrible way to describe anyone, this is evidence of the prejudice that she had against them. She even later referred to them as the enemy.

This just goes to show that racial prejudice is not the only kind of prejudice that is out there. This was a very real story. My father went to Catholic school as a child, and I have...
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