Heidi takes place in the Swiss Alps and in nearby Germany, most particularly Frankfurt. The time is the late 1800s, when public opinion and traditional morality dominate daily life. On Heidi's mountain, the setting is pastoral in the literal sense, home to a shepherd and goats and filled with abundant flowers, broad meadows, gentle winds, ancient fir trees, and heavy snows. Sunrises and sunsets are always noticed and celebrated, especially by Heidi and her grandfather. Nothing is ever taken for granted.

The wildness of the place often frightens away city visitors. Upon returning Heidi to the mountain, for example, Sebastian lets her go on alone from the Mayenfield train station, "glad of having no tiring and dangerous journey on foot before him." Transportation is difficult, to be sure, for after the train journey comes a ride in a cart or on horseback, then a steep climb up the footpath from Dorfli. Inaccessible as it is, the mountain richly rewards those hardy souls who make the effort to visit it. From it Heidi receives her strength; away from it she grows pale and weak. The good doctor from Frankfurt and Clara each discover there a life-giving potion to heal their emotional and physical ills. The simple, natural diet of bread, cheese, goat's milk, and occasional meat, coupled with the mountain air, promotes good appetite, sound sleep, and emotional well-being.

In Frankfurt, life is much less rustic, and the book depicts in some...

(The entire section is 356 words.)