The Impact of a Summer

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Bethany Herold

Professor Sondra Doolin

ENG 121 C17

3 March 2014

The Impact of a Summer

Twelve hours and 350 miles later, I was in St. Marie’s eating a dinner of fresh tomatoes with my grandmother, sitting under the walnut tree in her front yard.”After exhausting her mother’s good graces, D.J. is suddenly packed up and shipped off from the big city to spend the summer with her grandmother. She was clearly at a crossroads with her parents; enough so that they felt sending her away was the only option. Her destination, a small town in Idaho, was quite the opposite of the urban life she was used to living in Seattle. Even more estranged was her grandmother, with her “heavy-lidded eyes and sharp brow”. Just a day after her arrival, the narrator decided to put on a bikini and lay in the sun. Grandmother is determined to put an end to the sunbathing and other delinquencies, so D.J. is immediately told to dress and then sent out to harvest vegetables. This is an important and impacting moment in the passage because this is the first time the narrator realizes that there is something different about this woman. That summer D.J. learned many skills, contributed much to society and took away with her some life-changing lessons.

As this story is told from a first person perspective, I felt I was able to experience everything as if I was right there. I also found the vocabulary to be clear and to the point. The dialogue is very real, and not overdone in any way. There is humor sprinkled throughout this passage, especially with the grandmother’s phrasing in regards to sunbathing; “It’s no good for you to burn your skin like that.” You can tell that this story is very personal to the narrator, and you can feel the emotion and passion in the writing. The story rings true, and is something many people can relate to in one way or another. We have all experienced some form of personal rebellion in our lives, even in a small way, and we have

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hopefully had someone there who impacted us greatly and helped guide us out of that period. It is an

informal passage with a down-to-earth feel, and I believe that aspect only adds to the sincerity of this passage. If it was written more formally it wouldn’t have seemed like such an accurate re-telling, and it would have taken away from the truth of the characters.

This passage was interesting because it’s relevant and meaningful to life. Through it, you learn quite a bit about the narrator and the impact that short summer with the grandmother had on her life. There are many wonderful details in this brief narration that sheds some light on the activities of that summer. We learn of “gardening, canning, sewing, delivering food to shut-ins, and sorting through junk at the thrift store that she (the grandmother) ran”. These little snippets teach us a bit about who her grandmother was, and what was important to her. It was clearly important, in her eyes, that she pass these traits and lessons on to her granddaughter, regardless if she wanted them at the time.

I wonder what kind of conversations they had that summer? Did her grandmother have a lot of wise things to tell her? Great lessons to share? Or did she simply speak through actions instead of word? Was she the silent, guiding type? Whatever she did, it stuck with the narrator. They both appear to have been stubborn women. Evidently, the granddaughter did not like fact that she was shipped off, so to speak, and forced to spend every moment with her grandmother. In turn, the grandmother was not about to put up with the reckless habits of her progeny, and she had no problem putting her foot down to speak her insights.

“But by the time I left, I had embraced her, and I’ve carried that summer with me all my life.” The grandmother has clearly had a huge impact on the narrator’s life. In this brief passage, we get a glimpse into the past to witness the turn of events that have contributed to who the narrator is today.

Lee, D. A Human History in the Wilderness. (2014). Narrative Magazine. Retrieved February 9, 2014, from


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