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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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8. Regional Realism   

8. Regional

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Activities: Author Activities

Sarah Orne Jewett - Author Questions

Back Back to Sarah Orne Jewett Activities
  1. Comprehension: In the story "The White Heron," how does Sylvia relate to her rural environment and to the animals--both wild and domestic--that she encounters within it? How is her relationship to wildlife different from the ornithologist's? Why does she ultimately decide not to tell him about the white heron?

  2. Comprehension: "The Foreigner" tells the story of Mrs. Tolland, a foreign woman brought to Maine by her sea captain husband. When he dies at sea, she is left alone, living in the captain's house, in a community that continues to treat her as an outsider. What kinds of relationships do the characters in "The Foreigner" have to the objects in the Tollands' house? What objects are important to Mrs. Tolland? How does Mrs. Todd feel about the house? What attitude does Uncle Lorenzo take toward the house and its contents?

  3. Context: "The Foreigner" contains numerous frames and distancing devices: the narrator recounts Mrs. Todd's story, while Mrs. Todd recounts both events that happened to her directly and events that she heard about from other people or through hearsay and gossip. What is the effect of this multiplicity of frames around the tale of Mrs. Tolland and her life and death? What links the various layers of the story together? Why do you think so many authors who wrote in the realist genre and experimented with dialect relied on frame narratives (Harris and Chesnutt, for example)?

  4. Exploration: How do Jewett's depictions of New England characters and their values compare to other, earlier authors' interest in the same subject matter (Nathaniel Hawthorne, Catherine Maria Sedgwick, or Harriet Beecher Stowe, for example)?

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