Atticus By Ron Hansen Essay, Research Paper
One of the main settings of Ron Hansen?s novel ?Atticus? , is a town called Resurrection, Mexico. The word ?Resurrection? is defined as ?the act of rising up after death?. Forgiveness, and the love between the father and son, live again, after this time spent in the town of Resurrection. Ron Hansen ascribes many insightful and detailed attributes to the setting in the novel. He also allows the characters to see Mexico in their own ways; as a haven of irresponsibility, a place to live and be happy, a place to bring out their true self. The Native setting of this novel contributes to the main theme of the story. Mexico and its? people serve greatly as a portrait of forgiveness.
Hansen speaks of many of Mexico?s qualities throughout the novel. His extreme detail in describing the setting of the story evokes vivid attainable pictures in the minds of even the most un-travelled readers. He often relates Mexico?s attributes to those of the main character?s home place. This contrast serves to deeply depict a clear view of the setting and all of its even minor details. Through Atticus? eyes as he travels to Mexico, Hansen describes the setting and look of the surroundings and its people. Having just entered Mexico, Atticus looked out and saw the setting for the first time; ?Wherever he looked the earth was orange and used up and no good for planting, but the trees were high as the sides of a canyon, the green turning to a night shade only twenty yards in? (p. 40) Many of these detailed accounts symbolize the events or troubles to come ahead. The swamp and jungles being referred to as ?tangles and snarls or a seaweed moss that hung to the jungle floor like green strings of drying hair? (p.40) allude to the twists and turns of the events to follow while in Mexico.
The characters in the novel see Mexico very differently. Each of them use the setting in otherwise different ways. With each of the characters entering Mexico for different reasons, their takes on it contrast. Stuart moved to Mexico because he had fell into financial difficulties. He was offered to take over a small bookstore in Resurrection, and decide towards it. ?And I fell quite in love with this place.? (p. 73) is what he said about Mexico when got settled in. For Atticus, Mexico is, in essence, the complete opposite of his home. Most every attribute he ascribes to it contrasts his familiar place setting in Colorado. Mexico?s landscape, people, their goals, activities, are all un-fathomable in his mind. When told about the daily life of his son in Resurrection, Atticus would rather not hear of the bad habits his son attained from being there. ??And then drinks and dinner out.? ?You didn?t have to mention the drinking.?? (p.10) On the other hand, Atticus? son Scott, and Renata also, feel like they belong in the setting of Resurrection. The life they leads there, is one that they enjoys. Although the reader knows that their being in Mexico does them no good, they, Scott especially, know nothing but a sense of belonging. They belong to this place, where there is no assigned responsibility, no rules, where they can live on the edge. Renata describes this to Atticus: ?We all live on the fringe here. We make up the rules as we go along? (p.58). Scott too, has feelings about Mexico; ?… the high feel some people have after going to a geography far from home and finding a here is where I was meant to be that they?d never felt before…?(p. 174). Therefore, the main characters view their setting differently, and use the settings in different ways, to live and learn.
The setting of the novel also aids in adding to the theme of forgiveness. Mostly, Mexico in itself is a tremendously forgiving place. The idea of no rules, and living on the edge leads this setting to be nothing but a place of forgiveness. Mexico is very quickly and easily explained as forgiving when Scott tells his father of an incident he had while driving in the native state. After splashing some kids with mud, he became stuck. While thinking he was then helpless, the people came over and pushed him out. ?I got out of the car to thank them, but the kids walked ahead without saying a word. You have no idea how Indian that is? (p. 13). In that, Scott reveals to the reader, how it is that Mexico is forgiveness. Another issue pertaining to the symbolism of Mexico, is the language spoken there. ?A great thing about Spanish is that there is so little responsibility in it. You don?t have to take the blame. You don?t say ?I cracked the plate.? You say ?The plate cracked?.?(p.20). By not using blame, it isn?t even necessary to have forgiveness. Bad things are not by fault. Leaving forgiveness to be apart from language. Also, the strictly physical setting of the environment depicts forgiveness. The geography quickly changes in Mexico; from desert, to swamp, to jungle, to ocean. These extreme differences let the characters essentially be in what ever type of physical nature they like. This adds subtly to the theme because with such vast areas to roam through, their surroundings are ?forgiving? to them. Therefore, Resurrection, Mexico fits into the theme of forgiveness.
Ron Hansen uses the setting in his novel ?Atticus? to play into the theme of forgiveness. By having the characters see Mexico differently, he contrasts their ideas to serve as a vivid picture. By ascribing exact qualities to the setting, Hansen ultimately uses it as his background, and also an insight into the minds, motives, and feelings of the characters and their themes.