Neighbor Rosicky

by Willa Cather
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How does setting affect Mary in Neighbour Rosicky?

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I am not sure that the setting truly affects Mary in this story by Willa Cather. Mary is not the central character and her thoughts and actions are minor. There are not sufficient examples in the story to answer this specific question. However, the setting is very important to the story itself. The story takes place in Nebraska at the turn of the 20th century (the story was written in 1928 and published in Obscure Destinies); the land is formidable -- Cather likes to present the hardships of life on a farm in the West, My Antonia, for example. The central characters in her stories are like the land: strong, determined, and unbreakable. There is an unspoken, untouchable beauty in the land that is reflected in the moral fiber of Cather's heroes, and her stories feature characters who are attached to the land. Indeed, in "Neighbor Rosicky," Rosicky is concerned to keep his farmland in his sons' hands and to see that they stay close to it, instead of forsaking the land in search of riches in the cities. Look for statements in the story which reveal Rosicky's attitude toward the farmland. (Does his attitude toward the land change or intensify? What do Doctor Ed's thoughts at the end of the story reveal about the setting?)

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