Welty and White: Childhood Innocence
The words and descriptions that an author uses are to provoke a response in the reader. They are not just telling a story but are trying to show the reader their vision. In this case it is the vision and remembrance of the past and how it shaped their perceptions of the world. Eudora Welty’s “The Little Store” is about the innocence and simplicity of childhood, which she shows by her description of the neighborhood she grew up in and the trips to the store she would make. E.B. White’s “Once More to the Lake” is a narrative about the peaceful simple times of a summer vacation at the lake that his family took every August. Welty’s “The Little Store” and White’s “Once more to the Lake” are both essays that effectively use descriptive words to draw the reader into the story. There is a similarity in the ways that both authors use descriptions of scent, sound and color to evoke fond memories. Both stories are about how the author’s went from simple childish innocence to the awareness of the reality around them. White appears to have arrived at a point in his life as an adult where he is tired of the hustle and bustle of his life and remembers the fun and also the peaceful times he had as a child at the lake. As a child, he and his family went there for the entire month of August every year because “none of them ever thought there was any place in the world like that lake in Maine” (163). White has not found another place that comes close to giving the same sense of pleasure that he and his family experienced at the lake in Maine. He wants to share this with his son so that he can experience the same sense of freedom that he had experienced as a child. White describes his trip and the arrival at the lake both in the present time and as he perceived it to be in his childhood. He shows the reader the many differences that have occurred to the area surrounding the lake. The road is now paved and goes the entire way to the cabin. Before, the road was a bumpy dirt road that used to stop by the store. It used to be that the arrival at the lake was a cause for celebration, and the “neighbors” would help you unload and take your bags to your cabin. Now, with the pavement going all the way to the cabins, he feels like he is sneaking in. He notices that while some things have changed a great many have stayed the same, the cabins appear to be the same, the lake looks the same and the air smells the same, even the trees seem to be the same, only a little bigger (163-65). The feeling of sameness is causing White to feel a sense of déjà vu. That first morning as he wakes up he hears his son get up and quietly go outside, he remembers as a boy waking up first, getting up and going outside before everyone else. The memories keep returning and he has trouble in remembering who the father is and who the child is. As he and his son go fishing a dragonfly lands on his fishing pole, and he recalls another dragonfly on his fishing pole as a boy. When he had that memory as he was fishing with his son, he had the feeling that he was his father and that his son was he, because the same events had happened to him as a child. Throughout the story the perception of who is the child keeps changing as White’s memories super-impose themselves over what is happening in the present, I would be in the middle of some simple act, picking up a bait box, laying down a table fork or saying something, and suddenly it would be not I but my father who was saying the words and making the gesture. It gave me a creepy sensation. (163) The feeling that nothing had changed was reinforced by the boats appearing to be the same ones as when he was a child, they even had the same broken parts and the same dirt on the floor (of the boats). In the beginning, White’s sense of time not passing is due in part because the basic features of the lake and the woods seem to still be the same. However, the uncertainty of...
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