Local color realism is a writing style that is derived from the presentation of the characteristics and features inherent to a specific place and its inhabitants. Both Mark Twain and Sarah Orne Jewett created regionalist works. The role of the narrator is particularly relevant in such a context because they are the ones that make the region that is being described understandable to the reader. However, the function of gender differences among the writers is local-color realism is visible because of the varied approaches taken for integrating the style into the stories.
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In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain uses regionalism to bring his readers into the heart of the American West by using several different dialects and unique vernacular. The lack of grammar, the incorrect structure of sentences (e.g., “It’s a most amaz’n’ good idea” (Twain, 2015, p. 286)), and unknown words compose the main character’s language, making him specific to the region from where he is. However, the descriptions of nature have nothing to do in the plot and serve as digressions from it: “The moon was so bright I could a counted the drift logs that went a slipping along, black and still, hundreds of yards out from shore” (Twain, 2015, p. 188).
In Jewett’s writing, local color realism, including the descriptions of nature, is connected to the characters’ inner feelings. The writer has often shown interest in the details of the physical landscape, although nature has not been the focus. Instead, she placed emphasis on the relationship between human consciousness and the world. When the protagonist refuses to help the hunter kill a white heron in the story “A White Heron,” she makes a moral choice to go against the greedy mission of abusing nature: “Were he birds better friends than their hunter might have been, – who can tell? Whatever treasures were lost to her, woodlands and summer-time, remember!” (Jewett, 1895, p. 22). The white heron bird symbolizes independence and natural wonder, which must be protected from destructive forces.
Jewett, S. O. (1895). A white heron: And other stories. Houghton, Mifflin and Company.
Twain, M. (2015). Tom Sawyer collection: All four books. Enhanced Media.