They were surrounding me with shades of yellow and black; I stood in the middle of a sunflower garden. I wanted to pick a flower for my mom, who was inside of our apartment. I searched around the hoard of flowers until I found the perfect one. Then it fades to black. This exact clip was cut out of my childhood and remains imprinted in my memories for some unknown reason. Every person has one of these “clips” in which they have a vivid memory of one place or time from their youth. Both E.B. White and Eudora Welty explore these memories in their pieces Once More to the Lake, and The Little Store, respectively. Each of these writers focus in on a place from their youth that had a deeper meaning to them. For White, it was a lake where his family vacationed and for Welty, it was a small corner store. Their memories are only enhanced through the authors use of language and style to convey meaning through out their essays.
In E.B. White’s Once More to the Lake, White relives his experience at the same lake to which he visited as a child. He begins by describing the lake when he was a child and then progressing as he ages. The main purpose of doing so is to depict the effects of time on not only the setting, but on himself. Throughout the essay, White is constantly comparing himself to not only his son, but his own father. “I began to sustain the illusion that [my son] was I, and therefore, by simple transposition, that I was my father” (White par. 4). One of the most prominent pieces of the essay that depicts the overall meaning is described in the very end of the essay. “I watched him, his hard little body, skinny and bare, saw him wince slightly as he pulled up around his vitals the small, soggy, icy garment. As he buckled the swollen belt, suddenly my groin felt the chill of death” (White par. 13). In these last sentences, White is not only realizing that he is middle-aged, but he is feeling what his son is feeling as he enters the cold lake water. Thus creating White’s dual-existance in the world; living as a child, as well as an adult. The diction of White’s essay seems to mimic the motions of the lake: calm and tranquil. While the tone of White in his essay is extremely nostalgic as he reluctantly accepts that time has aged him. White seems to struggle with living in this childhood memory of the lake, which appears to be so vivid that an illusion is created in his head in which White is still a child.
Just like Once More to the Lake, The Little Store depicts Welty’s memory of an important childhood setting; but in this case the setting is a store. In her essay, Welty remembers the importance of this store and how it shaped her family. The purpose of doing so is to describe the pure innocence of youth, in which a corner store can prove to be mesmorizing. Welty captures this youthful feeling as she describes the scene in which she “skipped [her] jumping rope up and down [the sidewalk], hopped it’s length through mazes of hopscotch, played jacks in its islands of shades, serpentined along it on [her] Princess bicycle, skated it backward and forward” (Welty par. 4). These seemingly playful and simple events are made complex and intricate with the use of words such as “serpentined” and “mazes”. By doing so, Welty is adding to the subject in which events of your childhood seem more interesting than as an adult. The tone of her essay is rather casual and playful. Welty captures her mental image of store when describing the “enchantment [that] is cast upon you by all those things you weren’t supposed to have need fore, it lures you close to wooden tops you’d outgrown, boy’s marbles and agates in little net pouches...” (Welty par. 8). This enchantment blinded Welty to what normally would be viewed as disguisting and dirty. For example, the tangible smells- “dill-pickle brine that had leaked through a paper sack in a fresh trail across the wooden floor” and “the smell of still-untrapped mice” are not typically viewed as pleasant aromas; yet, Welty depicts them in that way. Through her diction and tone, Welty captures the innocent feeling of youth as she travels to the corner-store that made an imprint on her childhood.
Though both description pieces of a childhood memory, Once More to the Lake and The Little Store vary in the methods that each author uses. For example, the purposes of each essay can be viewed as similar, although about different topics. Welty seems to want to make a connection with those who remember the innocence of youth. In comparison, E.B. White’s purpose in writing Once More to the Lake is to make a connection with others who are battling with a midlife crisis in which they try to relive their childhood. Yet, if we analyze the purpose further, Once More to the Lake seems to be a piece more about self-reflection than anything else. White is not just describing the effect of time on the lake, but the effect on himself. For example, “Everywhere we went I had trouble making out which was I, the one walking at my side, the one walking in my pants” (White par. 11) Welty, although expressing the effect of the store on her family, does not compare this to herself now and reflect upon it.
Childhood has proven to be a powerful force within our lives. Memories that are developed during this time seem to adhere to us; not matter the importance. Something as little as picking a flower can be seen as a detailed image in your mind.. For E.B. White, the lake to which his family traveled to proved to be a place of self-reflection and realization. For Eudora Welty, the “little store” allowed her to remember the innocence of her youth.