What is the relationship between the characters and the atmosphere?

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

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Fitzgerald constructs characterizations that connect to their rooted atmosphere.  The "lazy warmth" of the South is contrasted with the frigid hustle and bustle of the North.  Sally's life in the South is a part of her characterization.  It is for this reason that the atmospheric conditions of the South help to enhance her identity, something that Clark suggests is going to “be a lot different from us, every way."  The use of the collective "us" in the sentence helps to enhance how atmospheric conditions help to enhance characterization and identity differences in both North and South.  As Sally travels to the North, she is cold and finding herself in a position of change from where she was.  This is atmospheric, as the North is fundamentally colder than the South, as seen when Sally shares a “faintly familiar icy-cold face” with her fiance.  Yet, it is also reflective of an identity change in which Sally is recognizing that what she originally thought about the North and herself might not be as certain as she originally thought.  

The connection between atmosphere and characters is seen in how Sally is regarded as an outsider in the North.  She finds herself "frozen" against the idea of inclusion.  She is proverbially frozen on the outside looking in.  When Sally is lost in the Ice Palace, it is both literal and symbolic in terms of how she will never be able to acclimate herself to life in the North.  She will forever be pushed on the outside, and the need for her to hallucinate and see apparitions is reflective of how out of place she really is.  Her insistence on returning back to the South “to-morrow! To-morrow!” is indicative of how the atmosphere of the North is nowhere near as comforting as the conditions she had in the South.  Atmosphere and identity becomes reflective and connected to one another.

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