Study Guide

Missing May Setting

By Cynthia Rylant

Setting

Deep Water, West Virginia

Deep Water in West Virginia isn't exactly the most exciting place in the world. It's the small town where Uncle Ob, Aunt May, and Summer all live in their little rusty trailer, and there definitely aren't big city attractions around. Everyone knows each other and it's quite the sleepy, secure little place. Kind of like a hobbit village, but in America:

Home was, still is, a rusty old trailer stuck on the face of a mountain in Deep Water, in the heart of Fayette County. (1.6)

It's not an impressive place at all, and all of the families have pretty modest means. But even though it may not be a place of great riches or exciting landmarks, Summer, Uncle Ob, and Aunt May consider it their wonderful home. It's a comforting place that they can always return to when things get rough.

Charleston, West Virginia

The story really picks up when the characters head off on a magical trip to the capitol city. Even though a three-hour road trip may not be a big deal to a lot of people, the capitol city represents a land of prosperity and possibility to the characters:

I felt in me an embarrassing sense of pride that she was ours. That we weren't just shut-down old coal mines and people on welfare like the rest of the country wanted to believe we were. We were this majestic, elegant thing sitting solid, sparkling in the light. (9.24)

The capitol city is their version of Oz—a beautiful and wonderful place that they can be proud of. It's a part of their state, and when all the characters are there, they recognize the greatness within themselves and realize that they can go on to do great things.

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