The Country of the Pointed Firs Essay - Critical Essays

Sarah Orne Jewett

Analysis

Jewett, as a creator of regional fiction, focused on the life of New England towns that no longer exist. In The Country of the Pointed Firs, a masterpiece of the local color school of American literature, she shows the sociological and historical aspects of a New England fishing village. The provincial life of the inner world of such coastal villages contrasts with the bustling, prosperous outside world from which the summer visitors come for a time and into which some of the inhabitants escape. Jewett realizes that the changes brought about by industrialization are inevitable, but she laments the loss of the New England village, with its unique customs and independent individuals. In her description of Dunnet Landing, Jewett seeks to re-create the world that she knew so well.

The personal sketches point to Jewett’s concern for the survival of the community. She writes about simple country people and dwells on the commonplaces of life— visits to neighbors, family reunions, and tea parties. Jewett uses accurate dialect to create believable characters who speak the native idiom of the region. The rustic locale, scenes from the domestic life of New England, eccentric characters, and local customs provide the subject matter for Jewett’s sketches of New England life. With the passage of time and the loss of the shipping industry, this Maine coastal village has lost its vitality; Jewett’s characters can only reminisce about life as it used to...

(The entire section is 431 words.)