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Look at Sarah Orne Jewett's description of a New England town in the passage 'The Country of the Pointed Firs.' What impression do you get of Dunnet Landing?

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Introduction

Look at Sarah Orne Jewett's description of a New England town in the passage 'The Country of the Pointed Firs.' What impression do you get of Dunnet Landing? Pay particular attention not only to the details about the village itself but to what Jewett says about Mrs Todd's garden. Consider also her portrait of individual characters. What special 'regional' elements is the author emphasising? Writing in the nineteenth century, Sarah Orne Jewett adopts one of the most contemporaneous literary devices in 'The Country of the Pointed Firs,' producing a realistic portrayal of American life, whilst setting her scene specifically in the New England town of Dunnet Landing. Various authors of this period embraced this variation of 'realism' known as 'regionalism' due to its potential for the exploration of particular social issues, matters which could not be portrayed as effectively without a physical setting to intensify their significance. Caroline Zilboorg outlines this literary movement as often including 'vivid depictions of particular experience' one which explores 'the meaning of age, race, class and gender as well as region.' ...read more.

Middle

The narrator's own words delineate him as being a keen admirer of the garden, finding himself 'confronted with great pride and pleasure in the display,' yet the opening sentences reveal the speaker's more withdrawn perception of a landscape he later admits finding picturesque. The latter half of the text indicates the narrator's desire discontinue 'seein' folk,' yet the manner in which he describes the garden suggests that the opening paragraph was merely a method of convincing himself that this is indeed what he wants. This sceptical attitude is dissolved however and replaced with nostalgic reminiscing once the splendour has been rediscovered. The structure of the piece reinforces this idea, for the length sentences serve to have the effect of almost drawing the reader into the body of the text, paralleling the narrator's feelings of being redrawn into the garden he desires to leave. Due to the sheer amount of detailed features contained within the garden, the narrator's portrayal begins with one basic aspect, in this instance 'two or three hollyhocks and some London-pride were pushed back against ...read more.

Conclusion

Nevertheless, Mrs Todd can be seen as a mothering figure, from the rounded figure to her name, depicting her a warm and welcoming character. Additionally, the reader openly recognises Mrs Todd's wisdom, yet only mentions her knowledge concerning the usage of herbs and other such greenery. The reader however, can note that Mrs Todd also appears to be a more 'worldly' figure than merely knowledgeable on plant life, for she does not show any ill feelings towards the speaker, instead becomes 'more wistfully affectionate than ever.' Her understanding response to the narrator's decision to leave enforces her kindly character, yet ironically may make it harder for the speaker to leave in such pleasant circumstances. The reader can imagine that Mrs Todd what with her dedication to garden and contents would not be an companion the speaker would want to in any way disappoint or frustrate. Despite the narrator's eagerness to leave, the reader can assume that unknowingly, they have established their own terms between them, conveyed through the narrator's language, 'what we called 'seein' folks', and referring to 'our business.' ...read more.

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