Once more to the lake, by e.b white

“ Once More to the Lake,” by E. B White is a short story that provokes reflection by exploring familial relationships and the human relation to time. It narrates the tale of a man who spent hischildhoodsummers with hisfamilyat a rented lake property in Maine. After years apart from the sacred place, he decides to return with his son.

To the narrator’s relief, the lake and its surroundings appear to be the same, at least on the surface. However, he overlooks the decades that have passed and refuses to acknowledge that there are differences in the community compared to when he went as a boy. His denial translates to the reader who is able to connect with and view the tale through the eyes of the narrator. In ” Once More to the Lake, ” White utilizes diction, ethos, and repetition to establish time as an antagonist, which provokes nostalgia in his readers.

Prior to his arrival, the narrator has a negative mindset about the lake, believing that it has drastically changed for the worse. He writes, “ I wondered how time would have marred this unique, this holy spot” (White 1). White structures the sentence so that time is responsible for altering the holy spot. This personification conveys time as a character, as its actions affect something else. By using the word “ marred” he infers that time will have damaged his sacred place.

The alternative words that could have preceded ” holy spot” range from ” improved” to ” changed.” With this word choice, the writer establishes time as an enemy. It is not something that will contribute to his well being, rather, it will hurt him. Instead of taking a more positive outlook on what returning to the lake could bring, he presumes that it will be a bad experience, simply because time has passed and the lake has presumably changed.

In spite of his presumption, once he arrives with his son, the narrator observes that there is minimal change in the patterns of foliage and ripples on the water. As the narrator continues to recount his venture, he notes that “ there had been no years”(2), then that “ there [has] been no passage of time”(2, 3).

He makes this remark about varied situations from a bather in the lake, to the selections of pie at the farmhouse. These phrases repeat a total of five times throughout the short story. The narrator repeats these phrases as a coping mechanism, for he denies the passage of time. He repeats the phrase in attempts to convince himself of its validity. Whether it’s because he does not want to admit to aging, or because he does not want to see his son grow up, or perhaps because he misses his family vacations.

He does not want this sacred place to change because he constantly expresses that it seems untouched. He only notes the similarities between the lake and refuses to acknowledge any differences. However, if he were to remove himself from the minor details, like the pie and the lake bather he would realize that the lake has changed. While its character may remain the same, numerous families have come and gone, all of whom have different perceptions and thoughts about the location.

The country had advanced in terms oftechnology, which affects everything. Despite the pie flavors remaining the same, newmemorieshave been made there, by different people. The lake has been redefined and will continue to change as time progresses, despite the narrator’s rejection of this fact. In emphasis of his denial, when recounting his childhood, the narrator explains, “ We returned summer after summer–always on August 1st for one month”(1).

This is one of the opening phrases of the entire story which immediately emphasizes a certain rigidness in routine due to its structure. It almost seems militant–as though the vacation is some sort of obligation, not a leisurely getaway with the family. The repetition of ” summer after summer” informsa reader that this was an annual vacation.

It was a tradition of both comfort and necessity. Articulated by his obsession with the timing and scheduling of this trip, the narrator finds comfort in routine. Furthermore, the specified date of “ August 1st” permits one to assume that if the vacation had any other date, it would not be the same as it usually is, and therefore not as special in the eyes of the narrator.

There was no room for error in his childhood vacations. He then mentions the exact length of each vacation. Again, the author utilizes personal pronouns which places the reader directly into the mind of the narrator. The use of repetition exposes the narrator’s desire to avoid change, which then leads a reader to think the same way. He wants his childhood vacation to stay consistent, even decades later when he returns to the lake as an adult.

White writes in an anecdotal tone to guide the reader to view time as an enemy. He opens with silly tales about ringworm and dad flipping a canoe. A reader can easily relate the experiences of the narrator to his or her own family vacations. Additionally, he uses personal pronouns like ” we” or ” I,” which enable readers to easily insert their own characters. The narrator of ” Once More to the Lake” views time through a negative lens which alters the reader’s opinion.

White’s use of ethos appeals to his audience, which provides a direct avenue for nostalgia and memories. It stimulates thought about family vacations and sacred places and how time affects the two, which further engages the reader because it proposes a personal connection to the story. White’s piece is thought provoking through its applicability.

He writes a story that appeals to a wide audience on an emotional level and strategically repeats phrases that embody the denial of time. Time becomes an antagonist in “ Once More to the Lake,” for not only does it possess control of the narrator, but it works against him and his motives and desires. White’s piece provokes nostalgia and reminiscence in the mind of a reader. He also installs a certain level of fear of time in his readers, which ultimately teaches them to live in the present and cherish moments.