Defining Home

Susan Fenimore Cooper’s definition of home is wherever one is surrounded by the providence of God. Cooper states, “This simple assurance of the fullness and directness of God’s providence would, in that case, prove a most blessed source of comfort to every Christian heart, amid the trials and sorrows of life; but it is with this as with so many other instances, the boon is offered by God, but it is rejected or neglected by man” (260). God provides his people with all the resources to survive and as long as one doesn’t neglect or reject what God has to offer he or she will have a home. Everything God provides has a purpose, even the tiny sparrow. It is up to the individual to use and appreciate it. Cooper’s definition and valuation of nature differs from other author’s such as Emerson because she discusses what is literally found in nature and not the figurative or spiritual elements of nature. She relates nature to religion but not the individual in nature. Cooper seems conflicted between her religion and science. Many entries in her diary are devoted to the various types of flora and fauna found where she lives in New York. Panthers, various birds, trees, moose, deer, mouse and rats, flowers, etc. are all discussed in great detail. Other than its charm and beauty Cooper doesn’t find a deeper value in nature other than what it provides for residents since she has charts estimating agricultural worth and the proceeds of the forest. I don’t think Cooper’s text has a clear environmental message. Cooper definitely values and respects nature but she doesn’t urge reader’s to preserve their environment or go out and appreciate all of God’s creatures more. It’s just her account of nature near her home and her conflicts with nature.

Cooper, Susan Fenimore. Rural Hours. Ch./Art: “Winter” p.252-357. pub. University of Georgia Press 1998

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One response to this post.

  1. When reading Susan Fenimore Cooper’s excerpt I felt that she had no purposeful intent in writing the piece, but the meaning is derived from its scattered style. The structure of the piece is very unfocused. In the beginning she talks about a rumored panther in the area, then different types of birds, and then all the sudden switches to a long religious diatribe. The style of her writing seems very observational, writing down whatever important or note-worthy events happened that day. The religious connection to the sparrow seems very random and out of place. However, I think that the strange digression in narrative style reiterates that she is merely observing and reacting to the world around her. She did not set out to find deeper meaning in every little bird, rock, and tree, but instead experienced and epiphany-like reaction to the simple witnessing of a sparrow. In a way I think this makes it even more significant because it is not contrived, but still communicates the significance of nature. By noting this amazing experience Cooper stumbled upon in nature, it might urge readers to see nature as having more relational value and make them want to go out and have a similar experience.

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