Mary Austin

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Mary Austin The Land of Little Rain

The Basket Maker

Mary Austin's The Basket Maker is, like all her other stories in the book, a very detailed description of the western landscape and its inhabitants. But this time she focused more on a single inhabitant, an Indian woman named Seyavi. It is rather difficult to really define the plot of the story. Though the story seems to focus on Seyavi's life and experiences she is not the one who tells that story. The narrator, who is omniscient, takes over the role as a medium between her and the reader. The narrator is not determined, the reader does not know, who is telling the story, whether it is a woman or a man, though two things speak towards a female narrator: the first is a very obvious one, since the book was written by a woman I simply suggest that the narrator here is a woman, too. The second reason also speaks for a woman narrator, because she focuses more on things I would expect to be more of female interest and is more likely to be recognized or mentioned by women: I have read many diaries written by women on the overland trails and written about their lives at the frontier ( Willa Cather does that, too). All of them had a very special way of treating landscape and Indians in their writings. Especially with landscape they were very detailed, sometimes this was the only thing they wrote about for days. It also seemed to me that compared to male diaries, women used to have a very special curiosity about Indians and Indian behavior. So I will refer to the narrator in my analysis as ‘she'. The reason why I think the narrator is omniscient ( in the sense of she knows more about the topic she talks about as we do) as well as reliable, or at least she wants us to think she was, is because she simply says so. She feels authorized to tell Seyavi's story because she knows the land, the living conditions there and she knows how to survive in these lands. This is the moment when she forms a kind of conspiracy...
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