Sarah's Reviews > The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories

The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories by Sarah Orne Jewett
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Apr 14, 2010

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This collection of sketches loosely fits together to form a kind of patch-work novel about the fictional sea-port, Dunnet Landing, as told by the unnamed narrator who has come to reside in the town for a spell. Despite (or quite possibly because) the narrator is an outsider come to work on her writing, she sees the town through leisured- and nostalgia-colored glasses, reflecting on the importance of community, social connections and intimacy in this declining port town that must now survive in a new ecology of leisure and resort culture. Thus perception and the creation of a "perceiving" subject is of importance to Jewett's narrative construction. And it interests her narrator as well. Notice that in her portrait of this town, she romanticism and mythologizes the manner in which sea-faring families develop/inherit a distanced perception of the world; they see far off, by virtue of habit and heredity. But they also grasp the small, the near, the intimate, the dear in the objects they collect/consume and display on their hearth. These objects and gatherings are also a point of access for our narrator to probe into the world of her local hosts. And although the reader never looses hope for the narrator to bridge the gap between host and guest, for her to fully gain access to this other world, Jewett appears somewhat cynical in her own characterization of that possibility in the final scene of the novel.

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