Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Bruce’s Station

Bruce’s Station. Large Kentucky fort in which the novel opens. The fort is protected by a blockhouse at each corner of its walls. In addition to serving as a barometer of settler-Indian relations, the station stands in stark symbolic opposition to the forest itself, with its Shawnee threat, since the fort’s occupants have destroyed the forest near it to plant fields of corn, although still “all beyond and around was a dark and solemn wilderness.” The settlement’s attempt to push back that wilderness by girdling, or cutting broad swaths of bark away from the trunks of the trees to slowly kill them, leaving them “girdled and leafless, but not yet fallen,” is evocative of their hatred for the lurking Shawnee, as well as symbolic of the supposedly doomed status of the American Indians themselves.

Beech grove

Beech grove. As Captain Roland and his cousin Edith leave the station, they begin to journey toward the river ford through the forests. As strange cries begin to echo through the forest, the result of Ralph Stackpole’s attempt to summon someone to free him from his lynching, the author deliberately builds suspense in a decidedly theatrical and overtly gothic fashion, as the forests grow even darker, an effect “peculiarly fitted to add double effect to sights and sounds of a melancholy or fearful character.”

Ashburn cabin

Ashburn cabin. Small family fort on a cliff overlooking a river where Captain Roland’s party takes refuge while fleeing from a Shawnee war party. The cabin...

(The entire section is 652 words.)