Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Like the story’s meaning, the form of “Sorrow-Acre” reveals its folktale origins but takes on the complexity of modern fiction. The story is divided into four parts. The opening section is a leisurely description of the Danish landscape and an exposition of all the elements of this medieval world. In the second part, Adam and his uncle meet and begin their debate. Part 3 is a romantic reprieve, a description of the lovely young mistress of the manor as she awakens alone and observes the fertility of this spring morning. The main action of the story takes place in the last part, where the two men argue, are reconciled, and then part, and where Anne-Marie’s tragedy is played out.

If the pace of the story is almost stately, the descriptions are rich and passionate. Dinesen lingers over these figures in her landscape and, like some writing god herself, paints all the characters (including the setting) with equal fullness. The shift in the reader’s loyalty, from an identification with Adam at the beginning to a recognition of the rightness of the lord’s justice at the end, is carried off without calling attention to itself; even Dinesen’s religious symbolism seems natural and unobtrusive in the unified fabric of her story.

Style, in short, helps to enhance the power and poignancy of “Sorrow-Acre.” By the end of the story, most readers will agree with Adam: “For to die for the one you loved was an effort too sweet for words.”...

(The entire section is 443 words.)

Historical Context

(Short Stories for Students)

In order to fully understand the critique of Dinesen's "Sorrow-Acre,'' one must first examine three very different historical moments and...

(The entire section is 736 words.)

Literary Style

(Short Stories for Students)

Point of View and Narration
"Sorrow-Acre'' is told from a consistent third-person, or "he said/she said," point of view, and...

(The entire section is 495 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Short Stories for Students)

1940s: Breaking its promise of non-aggression, Germany invades and occupies Denmark in 1940. Although active resistance is futile, a...

(The entire section is 141 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Short Stories for Students)

What is the significance of the sickle engraved on the stone marker at the end of "Sorrow-Acre'' ? Does the sickle have a symbolic function?...

(The entire section is 133 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Short Stories for Students)

Judith Thurman's Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller (1982) is the most comprehensive biography of Dinesen's life in print....

(The entire section is 189 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Short Stories for Students)

Aiken, Susan Hardy. "Dinesen's 'Sorrow-Acre 'Tracing the Woman's Line," in Isak Dinesen Critical Views, edited by...

(The entire section is 168 words.)