What is the significance of the point that Jackson is trying to make by using an unnamed setting?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the most significant element of Jackson not naming the village for her story helps to broaden out the meaning of the story to more people.  It is evident that Jackson is influenced by the events of history where a group of people have been demonized by a social order.  The Holocaust, the Cold War, as well as the McCarthy hearings were all parts of this, whereby the ideas of targeting a specific person or group of people were all evident.  Jackson recognizes that the narrative of Tessie, the one "chosen," is a compelling one.  In not naming the village, Jackson is universalizing the content of the narrative.  It is not one that is relegated to a specific area.  If Jackson does name a village or identify it through a temporal context, the story's effectiveness decreases because the reader is able to immediately dismiss it as something that happens "there" and never in their own context.  I think that Jackson refuses to name the particular area because she recognizes fully that the effectiveness of the story is when individuals can see it happening in their contexts, in their communities, in their localities.  Through refraining to localize the story with a community name, Jackson is able to broaden the effectiveness of the story, making it something that applies to more people and one whose lessons can be appreciated by more people precisely because it prompts reflection on how such an experience can be evident in their own world.

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