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The Sense of Place: Lodge’s Ideas Applied to Mark Twain

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 in the story plays a role on the characters, and on the story as a whole. Surprisingly the sense of place was a late development in the history of prose fiction, I think that the sense of place is truly an important factor in any story. In Mark Twain’s “The Story of the Bad Little Boy Who Didn’t Come to Grief”, the place was never described in comparison to Kate Chopin’s stories I have discussed in the last blog post. Nevertheless, the sense of place still plays a role as always in this story, in this story it’s the distance between the bad little boy Jim, and the Sunday School’s morals. The narrator in this story is very sarcastic, saying things like “Ah! no” and “Oh! no;”, it shows that the norm in that society is that bad little boys always have bad luck, and most boys that go to Sunday Schools should be good little boys, yet in reality that is not true. So the sense of place in this story is Jim’s distance between his society’s norms, and reality. In Mark Twain’s “A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It”, in comparison to “The Story of the Bad Little Boy Who Didn’t Come to Grief”, this story has a deeper description of the place and setting as a whole. The story starts of describing the place they are in, just like in Kate Chopin’s La Belle Zoriade, which is also a story within a story. The sense of place’s affect in this story is how Aunt Rachel’s “troubles” in the past made her the happy person she is in the beginning of the story.

 

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

In Mark Twain’s “The Story of the Bad Little Boy Who Didn’t Come to Grief”, Mark Twain did not attempt to make the reader picture or “see” Jim and the Sunday School, this shows that the setting does not have to be explicitly mentioned to have a sensory impact in a story. The places in the story are of course mentioned but they are not described as they were in Kate Chopin’s story. Although we can’t really “see” Jim and his school, we can still feel the sensory impact the story has. In Mark Twain’s “A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It, Mark Twain does attempt to make the reader “see” the place the Aunt Rachel is in, which puts the sensory impact in affect. Aunt Rachel mentions how as a slave they held them as high as the porch they are in today, that shows the connection between mentioning the setting in the beginning of the story and how it all comes together within the story. 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.


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