Annie Dillard's "Handed My Own Life"

Essay by MyCorona83College, UndergraduateA-, March 2003

download word file, 3 pages 3.0

Title: A Family of One

With much enthusiasm and ease, Annie Dillard's "Handed My Own Life" tells us a story that many children may relate to. The excitement and wonder that ensnared her mind when Dillard laid her eyes on the much anticipated microscope she received for Christmas, as well as its "ingenious devices," (Chaffee 50) is practically unbearable. In this essay Dillard not only tells us, but shows us the impact of her first scientific observation.

After reading The Field Book of Ponds and Streams several times when she was younger, Dillard became spellbound by the scientific world and its many microscopic organisms. From the amoeba to the "euglena with its one red eye," (Chaffee 50) Dillard couldn't help but think that these were the only things that people would want to see under their own private microscope that they, too, might have stashed away in their basement.

When Dillard discovers all of the tiny samples, including the one "jungle in a drop," that came along with her precious microscope, she becomes ecstatic and can not wait to begin investigating every bit and piece of each slide. Unfortunately, she is overcome with disappointment from the very start. When her "jungle in a drop" experiment proved ineffective, she was upset, but continued on to the next subject. And from that failure, she became even more displeased, and so on leading her to eventually lose faith in her study.

Dillard, annoyed, states, "The kit's diatomaceous earth was a bust" (Chaffee 49). After waiting so many years for a microscope to investigate the countless things she had in mind, Dillard slowly built up high expectations in what she would see. When her high hopes were brought to a halt, Dillard's beliefs about science and its amazement were suddenly brought to question.