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St. Lucys Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell (Book Review Sample)


An analysis of symbolic or thematic significance of setting in "St. Lucys home for girls raised by wolves" by Karen Russell. Include quotes form the story. Story version we are using is in The Norton introduction To Literature by Kelly J Mays shorter 12th edition, for reference.

The story, “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves,” by Karen Russell is about a group of girls who were captured from their families into the wilderness. They were brought to St. Lucy’s Home where they underwent training to enable them to adapt to a new environment which was much different from their usual place. In the process of adjusting to the new setting, they encountered a lot of difficulties whereby they even got involved in conflicts among themselves. To achieve the changes necessary to fit in the new environment, they had to work hard to overcome various challenges they could face and also, try to embrace the new culture of doing things in St. Lucy’s Home. Therefore, there was a lot of competition amongst them as they strive to achieve success in their new life. All the struggles in St. Lucy’s Home symbolize the challenges one has to undergo in a civilization process. Therefore, the girls represent the process of getting off an individual from his/her old personal and cultural identities and train afresh in a new manner that is acceptable in the human world. Thus, the girls were assimilated from the life in the wilderness which is symbolized to that of wolves to a human kind.
Civilization process entails different stages which the girls had to undergo as they were trained various practices on how to handle themselves in the human world. The story revolves around three girls, Jeanette who was the oldest in the group, followed by Claudette, who is the narrator of the story as well being the middle girl, and finally Mirabella, the youngest. The three girls represent the development stages in the human life starting from childhood where one tries to learn the new language, at the middle age where an individual tries to cope with the new environment, and also, an old age where one is comfortable with the surrounding and have also made some achievements. Every girl here represents various reactions of the process of the training of civilization as well as when placed in the unfamiliar environment. The girls were trained by nuns who replaced their birth names with new Christian names. This was a sign of assimilation to Christianity. The setting of this story gives a significance relating to the colonial period in America as the colonists tried to assimilate the Native Americans to a civilized environment whereby they changed their names and took them from their families and people.
Assimilation is not such an easy process. One has to undergo various transformations since the process involves adapting to a new culture and practices which entails the change of language and lifestyle. This is the same case with what the girls had to undergo at St. Lucy’s Home. They girls encountered various challenges and difficulties during civilization process. For instance, they faced the problem of a language barrier as they move from an environment of wolves to the civilized world. In St. Lucy’s Home, the nuns suppressed and forced them to adapt to certain new conditions. For example, the girls were obliged to learn a human language like speaking English while they coerced them to leave their native language. This is evident from the story particularly when Claudette complains of the complications of speaking their new names, and she also hates the school environment. She uttered that “will our tongues curl around our false new names.” She also says that it took her a long time to say anything in human language so first she had to translate everything she heard in her head (Russell 126). This is clear that s...
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