“Strange Homecomings” Place, Identity Formation, and the Literary Constructions of Departure and Return in the Works of Sarah Orne Jewett, Mark Twain, and Ernest Hemingway
Type of Degreedissertation
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This dissertation considers place identity theory to examine three American authors’ constructions of place. It examines the literature of Sarah Orne Jewett, Mark Twain, and Ernest Hemingway for what it might reveal about their changing attitudes toward home, specifically examining the literary manifestations of a “homecoming” when these authors’ returns force them to confront simultaneously a changed place and feelings of dislocation. Recognizing nineteenth- and twentieth-century developments in transportation and their effects on the traveler’s understanding of place, this study also addresses how recent contributions by place identity theorists inform a writer’s attachment to place and the effects of travel on that attachment. Each chapter examines how the author connected to his or her hometown and how travel from it affected the writer’s understanding of the place, before exploring the literary effects of this experience. Sarah Orne Jewett’s association with Berwick, Maine, is complicated by travel away from it, as evident in her stories “A Native of Winby” and “A Spring Sunday,” among others. Mark Twain’s departures and returns from his hometown of Hannibal, Missouri, challenge his association with place, and evidence of his deteriorating place identity spans his major works from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer through No. 44, the Mysterious Stranger. Ernest Hemingway’s service in World War I affected his association with Horton Bay, Michigan, and its surrounding areas, informing his Nick Adams stories, particularly “Fathers and Sons” and “Big Two-Hearted River.” Ultimately, this dissertation addresses the extent to which place and changes to a writer’s sense of place can influence literature.