Why is the setting important to the plot in Homecoming?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would go so far as to say that the setting of Homecoming almost IS the plot of this story.  Set in coastal New England, we cannot escape either the beauty or the hardship of this place as we travel with the four Tillerman children as they look for "home."

In breaking coastal New England up into parts according to the plot, first we need to speak about Provincetown, Massachusetts.  The Tillerman family lives in a ramshackle hut on the dunes here.  The children only have a fleeting idea that their mother suffers severe mental illness. This is when Mrs. Tillerman suddenly packs her children up ready to take them on "a trip."   

The next important aspect of setting in coastal New England is Bridgeport, Connecticut.  It is along the way there that Mrs. Tillerman takes the children, unbeknownst to them, to drop them off at a random mall parking lot and leave them forever.  This leaves the oldest children to tend to the young.  They try to make it to Bridegport on their own in order to find the elusive Aunt Cilla who they only know because of a fleeting Christmas card.  The kids do get to Bridgeport, but their aunt has died, leaving them no choice but to live in Aunt Cilla's house with their cousin, Eunice Logan.  Eunice is ailing, agrees to help the children for a night or so, but can't take care of them long term.  Eventually Eunice ships the kids off again... to the next important setting in coastal New England.

Eunice carts the kids off to the New England town of Crisfield, on the eastern shore of Maryland.  Here, the Tillerman children meet "Gram" who seems like a complete curmudgeon.  She is their maternal grandmother, Abigail Tilllerman, who lives on a decrepit farm.  Gram is mean and ornery to the kids at first, but when Gram doesn't kick the kids out, the kids make it their mission to clean up the farm. Gram's true personality is now revealed.

"But I'll tell you something else, too. Something I've learned, the hard way. I guess"—Gram laughed a little—"I'm the kind of person who has to learn things the hard way. You've got to hold on. Hold on to people. They can get away from you. It's not always going to be fun, but if you don't—hold on—then you lose them."

It turns out that Gram has an incredible capacity to love, and is thankful to the children for their help, their affection, and their family connection to Gram's past.  The Tillerman children have finally found home.

In conclusion, I guess you could say that it is Crisfield, Maryland where the true homecoming of Homecoming takes place.  It is here, in this eastern coastal town, where the Tillerman children meet their Gram, help their Gram, and learn to love their Gram.

ksalgren | Student

In a story the plot is what makes up the events. For example, the family went to the picnic. It started to rain. The picnic was ruined from the rain. The family went home. Most plots have conflict, the conflict in this plot would be the weather.

Setting on the other hand is what sets up the plot. For example, a picnic at the park. How the writer describes the scene with imagery is very valuable to the plot of any story or piece of literature. Setting explains the where and when the plot or story takes place. If the picnic was taken place in the 1700s, you would have a different image in your head than having the picnic take place in 2015.

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