Study Guide

Passion Setting

Advertisement - Guide continues below


The Ottawa Valley

Alright, here it is: the super fantastical, extra spectastical "Passion" setting breakdown.


The story takes place in Canada's Ottawa Valley. Located between Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, the Ottawa Valley is a go-to destination for quaint prettiness. Do you like corn farming? There's lots of corn farming. And pine trees…and probably deer. We also imagine there are gift stores filled with jelly made from Ottawa Valley pine trees. This is an out-of-the-way kind of place. It's the countryside. At the beginning of the story, when Grace is looking for the Traverses' summer house, she remembers there being just "one dirt road running towards the lake, then the one dirt road running rather haphazardly along the lake's edge" (1).

Whether you grew up in New York City, a small cabin in Wyoming, the Ottawa Valley, or a boat in the middle of the ocean, chances are you'll be influenced by cultural expectations. For instance, are those shoes you're wearing "normal"? What will people think if you're a guy and you really want to be a cheerleader, or if you're a girl and you really want to play football? Figuring stuff out (let alone figuring yourself out) can be difficult anywhere, but sometimes growing up in a place like the Ottawa Valley can make it even more difficult since there are fewer people, meaning what you do and who you are gets noticed more.

This might be an important factor to consider when it comes to Grace. There's a constant sense of conflict between the life she dreams about and the life she has. What do people think of her desire to learn about subjects that don't have anything to do with getting a job and earning a living? How do cultural expectations (e.g., this is what boys like, this is what girls like) influence what people think? How might those expectations make us feel trapped?


The majority of the story takes place during one summer. Grace is twenty years old and just out of high school. And although no explicit dates are stated, there are clues (like the fact that Grace and Maury go to see Father of the Bride) that let us know we're probably in/around 1950. This is probably worth keeping in mind if you consider the heaviness of those gender roles and expectations. 

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...