Feelings Towards the Setting 

Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubegeshig Rice is a fictional novel about the struggles of an Anishinaabe community isolated from the conveniences of urban living during a ferocious winter. While reading this novel, the author’s description of the setting gave me a sense of isolation, hopelessness, and uneasiness. The community in the novel is a reservation located in the boreal region, away from any urban occupation. In the story, the reservation had its urban ties cut off due to the harsh snowstorm that passed through. This development in the story gave me a sense of isolation because of the way the author delivered it. Mr. Rice does a good job at emphasizing on the solitude of the situation by bringing up the ways this cut off affected the community. There was the cut off of cellular communication among the people, electricity throughout the homes, and the cut off of food within the community. The impression of uneasiness came from the many stories of the southern town falling apart and the many visitors to the community. In the novel, there was a larger town down south of their reservation which had spiraled into chaos due to the snowstorm. After the breakdown of the city, people left and made their journey into other communities to seek refuge. The way the author introduces the newcomers as non-trustworthy, sketchy, and ignorant gives an uneasy atmosphere throughout the book. The main impression throughout the whole story for me, was hopelessness. The author always keeps that sense of hopelessness through either the character’s inner monologue, or through the multiple notes on the town’s worsening condition. We are always reminded of how horrible the storms get and how trapped the community is by this. This gives the reader a consistent sense of anguish.  

Image result for boreal forest winter

Snowy boreal forest. Credit: Shutterstock

Am I Familiar with the Setting?

In the sense that I live on a northern reserve myself, I do know this setting. I have experienced power outages, some solitude from urban conveniences, and harsh winters similar to the characters in the story. The power outages in my community are never as rough as the power outage in the novel but it does disconnect us from the use of electricity for the couple hours it lasts. Another way I understand this setting is through the isolation from modern conveniences. In my community, the closest we get from any large populous is all most 200 kilometers away which can only be reached via transportation. This reservation has also had its fair share of brutal winters in its past years which is another connection to this novel. The winters did not cut everyone off from supplies and communications like the reservation in the book, but we still had some people struggling through these winters.  

Were Expectations Met? 

After reading the first few chapters of the book it lived up to my expectations of what to expect the setting to be. I expected the setting would continue to be dark, hopeless, barren, and isolated; and I believe the author did an amazing job of keeping that ambiance. There was always an underlying feeling of hopelessness throughout the chapter, and the way the community is described provides you with an isolated and barren mental picture. The darkness of the setting comes from all the dying people throughout the book and how their deaths were delivered. Overall, the setting was almost exactly how I expected it to be.