Most of Out Stealing Horses occurs in unspecified, outlying areas of Norway, though there is also a short period spent in Norway’s capital, Oslo. At one point, “eastern Norway” is used to designate the setting, but Norway has a very long eastern border. Also, proximity to Sweden is mentioned, but again, Norway shares a long border with this country. What is known is that both during the summer of 1948 and fifty years later, the setting is somewhere in the woods and is located somewhat closely to very sparsely populated villages surrounded by thick northern forests and bodies of water.
The feeling of the setting is that of isolation, cold weather, and closeness with nature. Another feeling that emanates from the story is a pristine setting. There are no polluting elements. People seem to appreciate the silence and fresh air, as well as the challenge of dealing directly with nature for their food and warmth. The characters either have lived in these outlying areas all their lives or have come here, as in Trond’s situation, to get away from humanity and all the pitfalls of crowded society. Out in the woods, dogs, horses, birds, and fish are their own beings, not animals used for peoples’ advantage. Trond’s father even refers to fish by the name of Jacob, personalizing the contest between his need for food and the fish’s need to stay alive. Birds and plants are recognized by their scientific names. In the case of Trond, as his older self, his dog, Lyra, is literally his best friend.
Living out in the wilderness is likened to a spiritual retreat, a place where one can go to rid one’s mind of unnecessary chatter, to reconnect with what is truly important about life and to become less aware of competing with other humans in the game of getting ahead. The soul is the focus in this setting as much as the body and mind.
Flashbacks to the German occupation of Norway provide a different type of setting....
(The entire section is 596 words.)