"Sunset Song" is a novel written by Lewis Grassic Gibbon. It follows the life of young Chris Guthrie as she moves from childhood into motherhood. The setting of the novel is used to describe characters and to help us understand their attitudes and their symbolic nature. Much of the setting is also used by Gibbon to craftily expound some of the key themes of the novel.
Chris Guthrie, the main character in the novel is showed to clearly symbolise the land. At the start of the novel, in the chapter named Ploughing, we are told that Chris is still just starting in life, she is not experienced.
"but she was no more than ploughed land still"
A direct comparison is given here between Chris' stage in life and the land upon which she lives. Just as the land is beginning to be prepared for the growing of crops, so to Chris is just at the early stages of preparation for her life.
The use of these farming terminologies to describe Chris' life show clearly that four chapter titles (Ploughing, Drilling, Seed-Time and Harvest) will be used as a metaphor for Chris' development in terms of the natural divisions of the agricultural year. At this early stage in the novel a clear comparison between the land and Chris is given, definitively showing the reader that it will be Chris, the main character, who will be likened to the setting, of the rural, agricultural land, most closely, and her life which will follow its natural annual progression.
Later in the novel we read about a decline in John Guthrie, Chris' father. It is harvest time and again the setting is used to explain and give reason to his out of ordinary behaviour.
"For every harvest there came on Father...