What is the setting of "The Californian's Tale" by Mark Twain? 

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The story takes place on the "Stanislaus," a river in Stanislaus county in California's Central Valley. Twain writes that this area "had once been populous, long years before, but now the people had vanished and the charming paradise was a solitude. They went away when the surface diggings gave out." In fact, the place is a kind of ghost town, full of abandoned and overgrown cottages, dotted every now and then with a cabin still inhabited by "the very pioneer who had built [it] . . . he was there because he had once had his opportunity to go home to the States rich, and had not done it." It is in this forlorn landscape that the narrator finds Henry's cottage, neat and well-decorated in contrast to the other cabins in the area, but it soon becomes clear that the cottage's outward appearance of normalcy—the "woman's touch" provided by Henry's missing wife—is an expression of Henry's loss (his wife has been missing 19 years!) and his own mental vacancy, which mirrors the emptiness of his physical surroundings.

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“The Californian’s Tale” is located in what Mark Twain called “the Stanislau.” The Stanislau is a national forest located in central California. It is located east of San Francisco, north of Fresno, and south of Reno, Nevada. On the east it borders Yosemite National Park and on the south it borders the Sierra National Forest. Originally, the area was settled by the Mi-Wuk Indians, but with the discovery of gold in 1849, white men came into the territory. It is beautiful area of the country and, today, is a place people bike, camp, and enjoy their vacations. Mark Twain describes it in his story, “The Californian’s Tale” as,

“…..like Heaven on Earth.  It had bright green hills and deep forests where soft winds touched the trees.” (pg 1)

Modesto is the county seat of Stanislau County, and there is actually a city in Stanislau County named Twain Harte. This city was named after Mark Twain and Bret Harte, both authors who wrote tales located in that area of California.

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