Why does the setting of "An Alpine Idyll" matter?

The setting matters in "An Alpine Idyll" because it reveals the cold and bleak mindset of various characters in the story. Humans attempt to force nature to extend itself beyond reasonable limits, and they find themselves in discomfort because of their actions.

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The setting in this short story is shown to be an unnatural influence on humanity.

The peasant's wife died in winter. Because of the snow, he could not bury her properly, so he resigned himself to "storing" her in his woodshed until he could make his way to the parish. Yet he finds that his stiff wife is often in the way as he tries to obtain his needed wood, so he resorts to using her open mouth as a lantern hook. Other patrons in the inn are fairly horrified by his actions, asking the peasant whether he loved his wife. He replies that he "loved her fine." The peasant's behavior is a bizarre interpretation of love, yet he is unfazed by his actions. The cold setting heightens the sense of cold detachment that the peasant seemingly feels toward his wife and the unnatural way he has treated her body following her death.

The narrator has just come down the mountain from a skiing expedition. Unfortunately, he and his companion have been oddly unfulfilled by their excursion, at least partially because of the timing. They have chosen to ski in May, a time of year typically associated with rebirth and growth. Yet the skier has isolated himself in high altitude, creating an unnaturally frozen surrounding for this time of year. The springtime sun is exhausting as they search for snow, and the men are glad to escape the frozen world.

In both cases, the cold, frozen setting is unnatural and bleak. It is an oppressive force, creating feelings of discontent and discomfort in the skiers as they attempt to force nature to extend itself beyond reasonable limits. The setting reveals the macabre mind of the peasant, who keeps his dead wife frozen so that he can use her open mouth as a crude lamp holder.

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