Does Scott uses details of the setting to give meaning to the story in the novel “The Desjardins”  by Duncan Scott?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Duncan Scott uses details of the setting in the story "The Desjardins" to infuse more meaning through illustrating how the house, its location, the seasons, and the tone of the story, closely resemble the characters' own traits to the point of symbolizing them in a way.

The setting of the story is the village of Viger which, in itself nests the home of the Desjardins. The house in question is one described as one which stands out from the rest; one with a history of enigma that has created lore and rumors around the village. This detail of description places the home as an isolated, Gothic place that carries with it an air of mystery. This mystery will ultimately also affect the view of the residents; a family who has a history of insanity, of strange deaths (the elder Desjardins just disappeared once and his return was in his coffin), and of weird behaviors.

JUST at the foot of the hill where the crossed Blanche stood one of the oldest houses in Viger.... Beyond the fence was a row of Lom bardy poplars some of which had commenced to die out. On the opposite side of the road was a marshy field where by day the marsh marigolds shone and by night the fire flies.

Here we find an allusion to the dying race that are the Desjardins; they too will start to die out due to the insanity that is so rampant in the family.

The setting is further described when Charles begins spiraling down and he associates winter his own grandiosity. The white snow of winter and its eventual pervasiveness in the mind of Charles is indicative of the mental wipeout that was slowly taking away Charles's sanity.

For a month or two he lay wavering between two worlds but when he saw the first snow and lost sight of the brown earth he at once commenced to order supplies to write dispatches and to make preparations for the gigantic expedition which was to end in the overthrow of the Emperor of all the Russias.

The nature that Scott describes to surround the home dissipates at Charles's sudden outburst of insanity. We get less glimpses of the beauty of the outside world and, instead, we start to get trapped within Charles's mind. This is what helps the reader to perhaps make the connection as to why the home of the Desjardins is described as one that stands out from the rest; because they do stand out as well.

...It was built of massive timber..The roof curved and projected the eaves forming the top of a narrow veranda. The whole house was painted a dazzling except the window frames which were green. There was a low stone fence between the fence and the garden where a few simple flowers grew.

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