Local Color in Literature

The setting plays major role in prose fiction. The dialect spoken, the customs observed, the dress code prevalent, and the way of living all can be peculiar to a particular region. This sort of setting is called a local color of the area or region. You must have come across such peculiarity of an area while reading a prose or a novel.

Such beautiful local color called "Wessex" (present-day Dorset) is painted by Thomas Hardy in his novels. If you read a wide range of his novels, the Wessex will emerge in front of your mind's eye - so beautiful, so vivid! Rudyard Kipling's India also shares the same local color. R. K. Narayan beautifully portrays the imaginary village of "Malgudi" - set somewhere in South India - in his novels.

The representation of the local shade or color continues emerging in the writings of several writers. After the Civil War, many American writers used the local color of America. For instance, the various parts of America just as the Mississippi region was used by Mark Twain, the south by George Washington Cable, the Midwest by E. W. Howe, the West by Bret Harte, and New England by Mary Wilkins Freeman and the Sarah Orne Jewett.

The writing concerned with the local colour focuses mainly on the particularity of the area. It is basically about the comic or sentimental representation of the surface distinctiveness of a region. It does not represent the deep, complex and the generalized characteristics and problems of the region.


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