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The Sense of Place: Lodge’s Ideas Applied to Kate Chopin’s Short Stories

In the chapter The Sense of Place, David Lodge states that “Effects in fiction are plural and interconnected, each drawing on and contributing to all others”

In Lodge’s chapter ,The Sense of Place, the sense of place is not the same thing as the description of the place. The sense of place is how the setting plays a role on the characters, and on the story as a whole. I think that the sense of place is truly an important factor in fiction, and I was surprised that it was a late development in the history of prose fiction. In Kate Chopin’s Beyond the Bayou, the sense of place is clearly carried out, as the Bayou had a significant effect on La Folle. La Folle was terrified of going beyond the bayou ever since her traumatic experience as a child, that frightened her “out of her senses”. The bayou played a big part in this short story because she was so scared to cross it, yet her love for Cheri made her conquer her dreaded fear of the bayou. In Kate Chopin’s La Belle Zoraide, the sense of place played a role on Zoraide’s emotions. The place was not mentioned explicitly, but Mezor’s distance from Zoraide played a big part on her emotions. And other than Mezor being sent away from her, the distance between her and her child made her insane.

 

Lodge also mentions that some authors show  “no attempt to make the reader “see” the city, or to describe its sensory impact…”

Kate Chopin did attempt to make the reader “see” the bayou in Beyond the Bayou, the sensory impact was described through out the story. The readers can feel Le Folle’s emotions towards the bayou, and how frightened she was to cross it. The bayou was described briefly enough for the readers to “see” it, as well as feel the sensory impact it had on the characters. Yet in La Belle Zoraide, although Kate Chopin did not describe the setting that Zoraide was in, the sensory impact was clear, the distance between her and her lover affected her so much which was clear to the reader. I agree with David Lodge on how important the sense of place is, the author might not always describe the setting but the sensory impact is always there no matter what.


2 Comments

  1. nayaabkhan99 says:

    Each of Kate Chopin’s short stories was well written and descriptive. There was always some sort of imagery involved. As for Lodge saying that some authors make “no attempt to make the reader “see” the city, or to describe its sensory impact…,” although this may be true, Kate Chopin is able to describe the setting with ease, allowing the readers to create a mental image of the location. Not only that, at some points, the reader is able to imagine that they are in fact, at the location, able to see and hear all the sights and sounds. This was especially true for the beginning of La Belle Zoraide. The story was introduced with a description of the setting which included a boat chugging down the river, bright moonlight, a slight wind etc. This allowed the reader to completely immerse themselves within the story.

  2. lubnamostafa says:

    Chopin definitely does effectively set up a scene for her stories. Although she does not sometimes explicitly give away the setting she does give details that amount to us as readers being able to visualize where the stories are taking place. The setting is also extracted from the language used and character roles which another implicit way of giving details of a setting without seeming too straightforward. Without knowing the setting of these stories we wouldn’t be able to understand the use of french words which is evident in the creole culture.

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