"The Lamp at Noon": Effects of the Physical Environment

Essay by honda_riderCollege, UndergraduateA-, November 2006

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In his short story titled "The Lamp at Noon" Sinclair Ross discusses the idea that our physical environment can greatly affect the way we live our lives. It is evident in this story that the characters' lives are strongly influenced by their surrounding environment. The story is set in the barren Canadian prairies during the 1930's, when the "Dust Bowl" era took place. Right away this sets a solemn and depressing mood. "...the lower of the dust clouds made the farmyard seem an isolated acre, poised aloft a somber void." (1027) Paul and Ellen are a married couple living in such conditions, enduring the harshness of their own physical environment. Throughout the story we begin to understand just how much this setting affects their relationship with each other, their mental states and the choices they make.

Paul and Ellen love each other and have a young child in their midst, yet, their relationship is quite tense because of their living situation.

They cannot seem to agree on anything when it comes to this matter, so they argue. Ellen states that she hates living on this worthless farm and that she is sick of waiting for the winds to die down so they can live normal lives again. This makes her feel imprisoned and angry with her husband for not satisfying her desires. Also, she worries about their young son because of the fine dust that is constantly making its way into their home, getting into his delicate lungs.

Paul feels a deep connection to the land, one that Ellen will never feel or understand. He truly believes that someday soon all of their troubles will go away and he will finally prove that all of his hard work over the past years has amounted to something. "...so vivid was the...