I had already seen the end of fall come through boyhood, youth and young manhood, and in one place you could write about it better than in another. That was called transplanting yourself, I thought, and it could be as necessary with people as with other sorts of growing things. — A Moveable Feast

Is it about retrospect? And what does transplanting mean in his sense?

  • 1
    To transplant literally means to remove a plant from where it is rooted and replant it in a different location. Any figurative use will derive from that. Thus a person being transplanted usually involves a move (i.e., from one city or place to another) People often talk of being uprooted from their home and putting down roots in a new place. But I think the usage here is even more figurative than that.
    – Jim
    Jan 30, 2014 at 6:41
  • To understand his thought, I think we should first know about this "place" and this "it" in "write about it". I suspect that the writer might use "transplanting yourself" in more than one sense at the same time. Jan 30, 2014 at 12:16

2 Answers 2


The protagonist has seen his life move from one phase to another repeatedly, and he has realized that with each change (which he describes as the end of fall of the old phase), he needed to find a new place in the world.

When plants grow, we change them to a bigger pot from time to time. If we do not do that, the plant will be unable to grow further, because it cannot extend its roots. Thus, by transplanting the plant, we enable it to grow.

In a similar fashion, we need to transplant ourselves as we move through the phases of life, we need to find a new place (physically or metaphorically) to extend our roots to enable growth. That transplantation may be physical, as in moving to a different city, but it is more likely meant in a metaphorical way. As we grow up, our role (and thus place) in society changes. We take on new responsibilities, we make new and different kinds of friends, and we may well feel we are in a different place altogether.

That displacement can cause uneasiness, doubt, maybe even pain or shock. But as the author states, it is necessary that this changes happen, for they enable us to grow.


It's probably about transplanting yourself from one phase of your life into another phase.

Transplant (v): move or transfer (someone or something) to another place or situation.

The author has seen the end of fall come through one phase of life boyhood (that's childhood of a boy) into youth (a young man) and youth into young manhood (somewhere between a young man and a grown man).

When you are in that phase, you understand it better. Having said that, a boy would understand a boy better, a young man a young man and so on.

  • Is transplanting here another way of saying growing from one stage to another? So, he's basically saying growth is necessary to all living things? thanks
    – user49119
    Jan 30, 2014 at 5:59
  • Of course, transplanting here does mean growing as stated by the author in his last sentence! It means that with growth should bring maturity and better understandings of life.
    – Maulik V
    Jan 30, 2014 at 6:16

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