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date: 14 June 2024

Jewett, Sarah Ornelocked

Jewett, Sarah Ornelocked

  • Karen L. Kilcup


“In the life of each of us, I said to myself, there is a place remote and islanded, and given to endless regret or secret happiness; we are each the uncompanioned hermit and recluse of an hour or a day.” As we see in this observation, the unnamed female narrator in Sarah Orne Jewett's masterpiece, The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896), often stands back from the community of Dunnet Landing, Maine, which she visits during one idyllic summer, to ponder her place in the world. In this passage about Poor Joanna, a woman betrayed by her fiancé, readers see the contemplative side of the writer and her accepting attitude toward self-sufficiency. In an encounter between the herbalist Mrs. Todd and her visiting friend, Mrs. Fosdick, we obtain a more uncomfortable view of isolation; here the narrator feels like an outsider, especially when Mrs. Fosdick asserts that “Conversation's got to have some root in the past, or else you've got to explain every remark you make, an' it wears a person out.” Mrs. Todd's reply reassures the narrator, welcoming her and, by proxy, the reader into the community: “Yes'm, old friends is always best, 'less you can catch a new one that's fit to make an old one out of.”


  • North American Literatures

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