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Though most literary critics do not attach a lot of importance on the setting of a work of art, both the temporal and the spatial setting of any story provide a background upon which characters and their situations in the story can be understood (Bullock 350). The setting of the story titled Cathedral by Raymond Carver and Doe Season by Michael David Kaplan provides the backgrounds upon which upon which the lives of the two respective protagonists are understood.
The cathedral is set in a middle class neighbourhood in early eighties while Doe season is set in the winter woods in the mid 80's. William Stull and Maurine Carol in their article titled prolegomena to future studies agree that temporal and spatial setting of the aforementioned stories chiefly contribute to the conflicts in the stories and also shape the way the main characters react to their situations. About the Cathedral, William Stull says "For the protagonist the literal setting of the story is not a big problem.
The setting just shows how he has been trapped by routine and monotony and his limited sense of vision" (Stull & Maurine 15). This moment that has been quoted, regardless of how long it lasts describes his freedom from those aspects of his life setting. He does not only feel like he is inside a house, he also feels like he is not inside himself. Secondly, spatial setting, the home of the protagonist is a very ordinary place and this is very important because if illustrates the ordinariness of the protagonist and also gives further meaning to the more than ordinary experience of comparing the cathedral with the blind man.
It also reflects on the ironic difference between a real cathedral and his home. At the end of the story, this setting does not matter any more because what the protagonist sees is not that important at that juncture. What is important is what he imagines and feels as evidenced by his comment "My eyes were still shut, I was in my abode, that I knew, but I never felt like I was inside anything (Carver, 110). This illustrates that his emotional capacity has expanded going above the limits of any physical space.
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The temporal setting of Doe Season by David Michael Kaplan is the winter of 1985 while the spatial setting is winter woods. The author, David Michael Kaplan uses this setting of the woods during winter to highlight the encounter of a young girl with a very threatening and dangerous environment. Every experience of this girl is complicated because of the world in which these experiences take place and the setting in a way appears to foreshadow the aspect of a youthful female in a male's world.
The main character in this work of art is and the author uses symbols and parallelisms to highlight the troublesome and complex transition of a young girl who is going through initiation into adulthood (Lacan, 1278). The author uses the setting of the ocean and the forest as symbols of man hood and woman hood. The woods indicate the feelings that the protagonist has towards her dad and manhood. The protagonist had spent her childhood as her father's sidekick and eventually, she became a tom boy. The forest, as the setting symbolise something that makes her have a sense of safety in this time of inevitable change in her youthful life (Bugeja 77).
The second role of the setting in this story titled Doe Season is to illustrate the conflict that the main character is in. Andy is in conflict mainly because she is not willing to embrace womanhood, having grown as a tom boy and his father's sidekick. She runs away from girlhood by working alongside her father and does everything with her father. However, while they go hunting in the woods, she shoots a doe and this is when she realises that her entire life has been a mistake, which is exemplified by the dream she has . As her dad cuts the doe open, she runs away then abandons her name, embraces her true name which is Andrea and begins accepting the ocean as a symbol of woman hood.
She leaves the safe and comfortable forest setting that signifies manhood and enters the wide and expansive albeit unknown ocean of womanhood. Initially, she is terrified by the ocean that symbolises womanhood but she relates it to her mother. The ocean was large and empty though it was moving and this gave her a good feeling. The woods used to make her think about God but the ocean is making her to think about things that are dying. To her the woods are so safe that she relates them to God but the ocean does not give the same feeling because it is virtually empty and always moving , with everything hidden behind it.
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In conclusion, it is important to note that in both stories, Cathedral by Raymond Carver and Doe Season My David Michael Kaplan, the setting plays a very crucial role in the development of the characters and understanding of the conflicts in the stories. The middle class setting in the cathedral helps to the reader to understand the ordinariness of the protagonists and why he is unable to resolve the conflicts in his life while the setting in Doe Season helps to explain why the protagonist takes a long time before she embraces womanhood.
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