The Country of the Pointed Firs Topics for Further Study
by Sarah Orne Jewett

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Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

Jewett is considered one of the best American regional writers of the nineteenth century. Other important American regional, or local color, writers include Harriet Beecher Stowe, Bret Harte, Mark Twain, and Willa Cather. Research and write an essay about one of these writers and her or his major works. How would you describe this author’s literary style? What major themes are treated in the author’s works?

Jewett was known for her accurate and endearing portrayals of the Maine coast and its inhabitants. Several notable painters from Maine have depicted their own visions of the landscape and inhabitants of Maine, including Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and Andrew Wyeth. Write an essay about one of these artists and his major works. How would you describe his style of painting? What does he convey about the landscape and people of Maine through this visual medium? Pick one of this artist’s paintings to discuss in detail.

In The Country of the Pointed Firs, Jewett describes a large community event, skillfully portraying the general sense of the event while paying attention to the details of character interaction. Write a description of a large community or family event that you have attended, such as a wedding, family reunion, or holiday celebration. What were the important events of the day? What were some of the significant interactions between various members at this event? What was your own experience of the event?

The stories told by the local inhabitants in The Country of the Pointed Firs may be categorized as oral history—tales passed down from one generation to the next through oral, rather than written, storytelling. It is often valuable to record in written form the oral histories of elderly people in their community or family. Think of a story that has been told within your own family or community and write it down the way you recall it having been told. You may want to ask someone to tell the story again, or ask about stories you have not yet heard. Why do you think it is important to preserve this story in written form?