Being consumed by ones surroundings results in an impressionable experience. Taking a deep breath of fresh air, admiring a breathtaking view, and watching the sizzling sunset evoke emotions. Willa Cather effectively evokes emotions in the reader, in order to relate to the characters feelings, by providing vivid descriptions of the setting, as well as through the reactions of Jim. From the start of the novel to the very end, descriptions of the Jims environment reflect his feelings.
Jim, being sent away, comments: I do not remember crossing the Missouri River, or anything about the long days journey through Nebraska. Probably by hat time I had crossed so many rivers that I was dull to them. The only thing very noticeable about Nebraska was that it was still all day long, Nebraska. (Cather, 10) Immediately, Jims detachment to his surroundings suggest his loneliness. The dull sights and the long journey also imply that Jim has been through many hardships after losing his parents.
The absence of a home, in addition to his uncertainty, Jim continues to ignore his environment. There was nothing but land: not a country at all but the material out of which countries are made… I had the feeling that the world was left behind, that we had got over the dge of it, and were outside man’s jurisdiction. I had never before looked up and at the sky when there was not a familiar mountain ridge against it. (Cather, 12) Jim begins to feel the absence of his parents, as well, as he is truly expressing that he feels left behind by his parents in a barren, unfamiliar, place.
It seems as though Jim lost the world and does not care to return to it. At this point, the reader begins to pity Jim, wanting to comfort him while adding to the setting in a little room, scarcely larger than the bed that held me, and the window-shade at my head was flapping softly in a warm ind, (Cather 14). Once awaken in his grandparents house, Jim is greeted with both comforts and unbefitting circumstances. Nevertheless, Jims sadness begins to lift, the more acquainted with his family and his surroundings he becomes.
Jims mood apparently lightens: As I entered the kitchen I sniffed a pleasant smell of gingerbread baking. The stove was very large, with bright nickel trimmings… (Cather 15) The brightness of the descriptions changes the tone of Jims thoughts and attitude towards his family. The next morning , Jim decides to go outside and view his new home. He looks out and is pleasantly surprised by what he sees: a scene which rids the dark and cold of the prior night.
He is no longer alone because of his fulfilling family and his new friend, Antonia. The emotions of loneliness, sadness, awe, and happiness are felt through out the story, but most strongly within the first few scenes. The descriptions of landscape help bring the reader into character’s mind, experiencing their emotions. Each description of the characters surroundings also set a tone, enabling the reader to recognize the actions and reasoning behind them.