The Country of Pointed Firs Essay

The Country of Pointed Firs Essay

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The Country of Pointed Firs transcends the boundaries of a traditional story in attempt to grasp the realism of the country landscape in a more generous form. The book contains little to no drama, but instead focuses on description of dialect, landscape, and gesture. The narrator meditates upon the unchanged time of Dunnet Landing to describe the quality of landscape and permanence in scenes of country life. Her trip serves as a revaluation of continuance—a fixed pattern of social order and existence within the village community. Furthermore, the narrator's outsider perspective justifies the practice of defining characters in external conditions. The Country of Pointed Firs is written in local color containing character portraits and genre scenes. Local color, in a sense, is a miniature form of literature in which the writer works with anecdote and caricature. Incidentally humor derives from occurrences of real life. The local color form is appropriate to the nature of the narrator's experience of country life in Dunnet Landing.
Jewett's art of perspective informs her pictorial style with a deeply refined sense of texture. The reader is made to feel the narrator's final judgments in the closing chapter of “The Backward View,” which states an end of the narrator's return to Dunnet Landing. The concluding scene is a moment of farewell between the narrator and Dunnet Landing as she stands at the crossing of two paths—the village life and the city to which she must return. The narrator sits upon a hill and oversees her surroundings, closely observing Mrs. Todd whose distant figure “looked mateless and appealing” (129). Mrs. Todd's attitude of sorrow and isolation reveals deeper insights into her character. Though Mrs. Todd earlier “...


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...n Mrs. Todd came back and found her lodger gone. So we die before our own eyes; so we see some chapters of our lives come to their natural end” (129). The closed and quiet summer of village life has come to a swift end. The narrator departs as the tide sets in, leaving Dunnet Landing in its air of isolated stillness.
The narrator's precise observations allow the reader to find insight in small moments of village life. Jewett presents a world seemingly unchanged with a mixture of remoteness and a “childish certainty of being the center of civilization” (1). The narrator's nostalgic recount of village life has about it the mood of a dream, a life remembered and not put down until long afterwards. Jewett's pictorial conventions create a feeling of impermanence akin to nostalgia assembled into long, gracefully rambled sentences authenticating her own regional style.

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