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Leon Rooke’s “A Bolt of White Cloth” (The Western World)

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The setting of Leon Rooke’s “A Bolt of White Cloth” is imperative to better interpreting the story. Although the story could have been situated merely anywhere and still had the same effect; it is easier to relate to with it being located where it is. With the wife listing off parts surrounding the couples house, as well as clues of the setting being on a farm; I believe it is much easier to interpret where the story takes place.

When the wife lists off the many surrounding objects such as her husband, house, the sky, the ground, and the woods, it depicts the setting very clearly in the readers mind. She is in love with all of her surroundings, which is important to her receiving the bolt of cloth. She was required to have a certain kind of love, and she “Loved lots of things in life…practically everything…There isn’t any of it I’ve hated,” which helps her plea to the man bearing the white cloth that she has the love needed to obtain the cloth.

During the story there are a few subtle clues that relate the setting to being on a farm. Hints like, when the man bearing the cloth walked “Past the front porch… towards the edge where the high weeds grow,” and also when the man “walked across the yard and up to the well house.” Some of the more obvious clues came when the man went to “look after his animals,” or when the stranger asks the couple “You’re out here on this nice farm, and no children to your name?” Even without the obvious clues it is fairly easy to understand where the story takes place.

By having the story take place on a farm, it is very simple for nearly any reader to automatically associate things that they view as common on a farm into the story. For instance, a lot of the setting’s detail can be left out, and therefore be left up to the reader’s imagination to view the farms’ look as if they would normally see one. By having this aspect of some undefined setting characteristics, the reader becomes more involved in the story. They want to find out more, or see if their idea of what the setting is like is actually the correct one. By leaving some of the story up to the reader, it makes it an interpretive story, where it is very easy to lose yourself in the book.

The setting of this story is very important because it makes the whole story interesting from beginning to end. It helps to relate the reader to the story, and also the clearer of an image the reader can obtain of the setting, the more they are going to enjoy reading the story. By having a unique setting, such as on a farm, it helps draw attention that this story is unlike many others, as it doesn’t take place in a large city. By picturing the setting, you can better interpret the story, which means you will have a better understanding of what actually happens. Thus concluding that no matter what the story is about, the setting plays an important role in helping the reader interpret it better.

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