Once More to the Lake Summary by E.B. White

This piece of writing is one of White’s most poignant works both because of its skilful narrative and unfettered writing style. White journeys through his memories while making new ones in the present.

The scene of all action is an old lake that is a revered shrine for the Whites. It has been a traditional breeding ground for cultivating character and values in children and young adults. White has collected hours at the place as a dynamic lad, responsible youth and a caring adult.

The cycle of time and space weaves a fluid form of storytelling where White constantly goes through different ages. As a young kid, the trip to the lake was a long enthralling train journey away. The build was different and the anticipation a lot more enticing.

In the present tense, White uninteresting rides up to the lake in a whirring car with his son. The romance seems to have been replaced with efficiency. The ambience at the lake has also changed dramatically. The smells are less invigorating and the noises are less stimulating.

Even though the scenes and actors are much the same, like the rhythmic calm of waters and the captivating beauty of birds and flies, the experience is different. White is taken back down the memory lane when he watches his son Joel excites at the prospects of his first experience of life at the lake.

The fishing, nature gazing, walking through the grass, chasing the insects etc. all remind him of his own zestful childhood and youth. He is different now, devoid of the same energy and hopes.

His jumps into the cold waters of the lake, making new friends with fellow visitors as White loses his old friends to desertion and death. At this point, White realizes that time does not freeze even though the images may repeat in the shape of his young son.

As his son grows up, White grows old and weary. As his son reaches his youthful prime, he nears his tired and unflattering end. The wheels of time may seem rotating but with each revolution, they move forward and further away from the beginning. White accepts this reality at the end of the text and finds peace with his own mortality and vulnerabilities.