The setting is in Michigan in the northern forests about a year or two after the World War I ended. The main and only character is Nick Adams, who we are already familiar with from the previous tales in the Nick Adams series. He has just recently returned from the War and with its horrors and dark stories. He goes to the woods, where he grew up as a boy and plans to camp and fish. As the story unfolds, he is dropped off in an abandoned logging town.
Nick's behavior and lifestyle is as though he were still at war. He still hunts for his food at times as well as making shelter within the woods at times. This gives a connotation of the way the native Indians lived, reliant on what nature provided and spending the entirety of their time in the forests.
Nick is living in a temporary escape from the hustle of the society and his troubles in life. This tale remains one of an optimistic ideal mainly through the various themes of survival and the continuation of life.
The world in the story exists as two separate but connected places. The first thing that he encounters that Nick encounters is the charred remains of the town of Seney, where there is "nothing but the rails and the burned-over country." The other one is the river that flows through the plain.
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Also the appearance of tribal dances, songs, and rituals "previously associated with warfare" (365) gives a sense of the regional and local importance which re-confirmed the pre-reservation status of the tribes (Indianness).
Being a veteran himself, Nick gained considerable self-esteem from the war and was able to create a different context where traditional rituals had a meaning associated with it. Another point in the story where a sense of the Indian culture is depicted is when Nick tells the insect to disappear. This is because insects and other animals were regarded as part of the larger ecosystem and humans could communicate with them
In general the story is about Nick and it illustrates his life in the forests and how he is in tune with nature and what is around him. It is vivid in description of the landscape of the forests, the plains and the river which goes to tell us how the tribes that inhabit these areas go about their lifestyles.
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