Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Mississippi Gulf Coast

*Mississippi Gulf Coast. The first section of the “Wild Palms” part of the novel opens in a summer cottage on the beach in southern Mississippi. In the strong wind from the Gulf the characters constantly hear the rattling of the palm leaves along the shore. The setting is an appropriate backdrop for the tragic story that reaches its conclusion here.

*New Orleans

*New Orleans. Known as “the City that Care Forget,” New Orleans is a Latin city, a contrast to much of the rest of the United States, where the Protestant work ethic is generally stronger. Harry Wilbourne grew up in that small-town, restrictive, impoverished environment, and the easy-going moral attitude of New Orleans serves to free him from the conventional life he has previously lived. Charlotte Rittenmeyer in a sense represents the city’s sensual attitudes. Harry is an intern at Charity Hospital and lives in the quarters provided for him there. When he ventures downtown with his roommate Flint to attend a party in the French Quarter (“French Town” in the novel), he encounters an entirely new environment and a group of bohemians with a distinctively different slant on life.


*Chicago. It is to Chicago that Harry and Charlotte flee after they have begun their affair and she has left her husband. This thriving northern city is markedly different from the slow and languid life of...

(The entire section is 578 words.)