On the first page of Educated, we are introduced to the mountain in rural Idaho where the Westover family lives, which is described as a dark, beautiful, and commanding form in a "jagged little patch of Idaho." How does this setting inform the family's experience?

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This extract from the Prologue immediately immerses the reader into the world of the Westover family. And, as the above lines make clear, it's a very small world indeed—a world created by Tara's father. All of his stories were about the Westovers' mountain, their valley, and their jagged little patch...

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This extract from the Prologue immediately immerses the reader into the world of the Westover family. And, as the above lines make clear, it's a very small world indeed—a world created by Tara's father. All of his stories were about the Westovers' mountain, their valley, and their jagged little patch of Idaho. That's because this part of the world was all Mr. Westover ever knew, and if he had it his way, it would be all his family ever knew.

As a survivalist, Tara's dad is deeply mistrustful of the outside world. To him, it's a hostile place full of enemies who want to take away his freedom. This jagged little patch of Idaho is his comfort zone, his refuge—a place where he can at least feel relatively secure from the numerous threats that lurk beyond the mountain.

The problem is that this inculcates a "them and us" mindset among the family, which makes it impossible for them to integrate into society. In particular, it prevents Tara and her siblings from getting an education, which holds them back as they enter into adulthood.

The world is so much bigger than this tiny speck of Idaho, but because the Westover children don't know any better, they're completely unaware of this. It's only when they finally venture from the mountain that they're able to realize that there was a big wide world out there all along, and that there's a place in it for them.

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