Yet Another Interpretation of Andrea Barrett from an English 1A Student

Self can’t help it, she’s on a roll this morning, with grading of papers. This afternoon the students will abandon Andrea Barrett and move on to Yi-Fu Tuan and likely lose themselves in the thicket of his nature vs. reality conundrums, students will be sure to love that (##@@!!). But, in the meantime, here’s the second good paper on Andrea Barrett’s process that self pulled out of the pile, and she’s only looked at SIX so far, not bad! Dare self hope the class as a whole has actually absorbed something from her “seat-of-the-pants” style of teaching???

This is John S’s take on Andrea Barrett’s process:

In Andrea Barrett’s piece, “Why We Go”, there is a very distinctive description of how she crafts her work. Under the guise of describing her adventures floating downriver in a kayak, she uses kayaking as a metaphor for her writing. Her experience of drafting is portrayed in her description of how she learned to roll in her kayak.

In her interview, “The Hidden Map of the Story,” she describes drafting as being similar to the process of building a house: “You don’t know how to build a house. The walls go up, the walls go down, the walls go up again somehow, a house gets built.” Both of these descriptions — the kayaking and the house-building– are really depictions of her writing process.

Another commonly discussed theme is the process of researching. “Why We Go” explains this process in the guise of having a map, which helps the adventurer explore what has already been explored. Fusing the two ideas, Barrett shows how having a map to guide the kayaker downstream, and researching your ideas before you write, are really one and the same process.

Barrett is more detailed about her writing process in the interview. In drafting her stories, she explains that she puts an excess of historical information into her manuscript, only to sacrifice much, if not all, of this material later. This approach ensures that what is essential is not lost. This description of her drafting process sets the interview apart from the essay.

Yes, yes, yeeees!!!

Princess of Los Altos, do your worst!


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