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Karen Russell’s “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves” is a fantasy fiction story that tells about a group of girls who grew up in a forest and were raised by wolves. Following the order of their mother, who is a werewolf, the girls entered St. Lucy’s home to get re-educated by nuns. They face many hardships in the process of adaptation to the human world: learn how to wear clothes, talk to people, and behave in society. The setting of fantasy fiction merged with reality helps to see human society from a different perspective and sheds light on the way we live our lives.
The Subgenre of the Story
In fantasy fiction, the story uses magic creatures, such as werewolves, who want their children to get a better education among people. This subgenre helps a reader to focus on the details and setting that differ the human world from fiction. The magical storyline depicts the humanity of magic nature, showing how werewolves want their children to be educated. “Our parents wanted something better for us; they wanted us to get braces, use towels, be fully bilingual” (Russell 227). This introduction to the world of magic arranged through the use of fantasy fiction subgenre gets a reader acquainted with the primary tool that the author uses. This tool is the use of minor details embedded in the setting of the story.
Minor Details and Setting
The setting of the story is described through characters and small details. The mentors at St. Lucy’s house are always called nuns or sisters, which gives the reader a feeling of a traditional and religious society, where rituals and norms of behavior are crucial. This part of the human world is associated with purity, spirituality, and peace. Using a religious topic makes readers imagine the atmosphere in the house with no need for additional descriptions of the environment.
Many particular details, such as smells, light, the hardships of using casual objects, focus the reader’s attention on the differences between the wild world and human society. The girls who come from the forest have difficulties in wearing shoes, which limit their moves; they are disgusted with the smells of food, chemicals, and perfume. “Everything was smudged with a human odor: baking bread, petrol…” (Russell 228).
Descriptions of these details make readers feel emotional, remembering how they learned first things as children and awaking their pure child souls. The readers feel compassionate for the girls, trying to recall the time when they forgot about their true nature. This effect is reached by opposing the details and the setting of the traditional human world with the magic of the wild forest.
Describing the Setting of the Education Process
The progress in describing the setting of the education process draws parallels to the way people grow up in a civilized society. Step by step, the girls learn to obey the rules of the community. They forget their true nature and pretend to be someone else – a personality who does not show true feelings. Eventually, in an attempt to be accepted by human society, the girls learn to tell lies to satisfy the expectations of others. Readers feel sorry for the characters and understand that this setting is the reality of their own lives.
In the fantasy fiction story “St. Lucy’s home for girls raised by wolves,” the author focuses on describing the settings and the details, opposing the fiction to reality. The reader looks at ordinary things from a different perspective, seeing colligations to his or her own life, realizing that a human heart is like a wild wolf. Animals grow up with no restrictions, and no one teaches them that something can be right or wrong about what they feel or do. Being wild, the soul of a human still has signs of human nature – it can love, be compassionate, and caring. The setting of the story makes us remember that we have to remove artificial limits and restrictions to be able to hear the real wild voice of our soul.
Russell, Karen. St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. Vintage, 2007.