Study Guide

The Art of Fielding Setting

By Chad Harbach

Setting

Westish College, Present Day

Higher Education

Westish College is place where everyone from the students to the president calls first-year students "freshpersons" with a straight face. Their colors are an ugly combination of navy and ecru (i.e., blue and dirty urine). They erected a statue of Herman Melville when they figured out he visited there once and wrote a line, "Humbled, I am, by the severe beauty of this Westish land, and these Great Lakes, America's secret sinew of inward-collecting seas" (8.3).

This is like if a town in the middle of the desert built a statue to Lady Gaga because she stopped there for a bathroom break while on tour once. (Okay, actually that would be awesome.) Because of Melville being there for about five minutes, Westish changed the name of their crappy baseball team from The Sugar Maples to the Harpooners, and the school store began selling a bunch of tacky Melville tchotchkes and shirts that say "Westish College: Our Dick is bigger than yours" (8.4).

Despite this college never showing up on U.S. News and World Report's Best Colleges list, Henry Skrimshander and Mike Schwartz and Guert Affenlight call it home. Mike and Henry both find a family of sorts in their charmingly awful Police Academy of a baseball team. Guert was the one who discovered Melville's brief visit, so he feels a kinship with Westish, so much so that he ends up spending the rest of his life there. We wouldn't be surprised if Henry, Mike, and Pella never left either.