How is Cather's use of settings move the novel through its paces?
How does it bring to the readers attention to both the beauty and the devastation that make up a farmer's life on the Midwest prairie?
For Cather, setting is not so much about physical locations as it is about seasons and weather--the most important and most uncontrollable factors in being a Nebraska farmer. Cather moves her story forward using the pace of the seasons and the unpredictability of the weather to mirror human events. For example, Mr. Shimerda's suicide is foreshadowed by a dark, harsh blizzard before his death in Book I, chapter 14. Conversely, the arrival of spring in Book II, chapter eight brings people out of their homes to the dancing pavilion, where young men and women will begin to interact socially and create the possibility for new life.