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Teaching Literature

When and where a story takes place is called the setting.

  • Time:  When did this story take place? Identify any dates or time clues mentioned in the story. Try to determine how much time passes in the story.
  • Place:  Where did this story take place? Identify evidence which pertains to the specific places mentioned.
Considering which aspects of setting are significant in determining the fate of the protagonist is frequently a clue to the underlying meaning of a story.

If the time or place setting of the story changes, we should consider how those changes alter the outcome of the story.

The setting may suggest:

- The prevailing atmosphere or mood of the novel
- Internal and external conflicts
- Potential contrasts between characters or ideas

Eudora Welty said, "Every story would be another story, and unrecognizable if it took up its characters and plot and happened somewhere else... Fiction depends for its life on place. Place is the crossroads of circumstance, the proving ground of, What happened? Who's here? Who's coming?..."

Writers describe the world they know. Sights, sounds, colors, and textures are all vividly painted in words as an artist paints images on canvas. A writer imagines a story to be happening in a place that is rooted in his or her mind.

So , the location of a story's actions, along with the time in which it occurs, is the setting.

Setting is created by language. How many or how few details we learn is up to the author. Many authors leave a lot of these details up to the reader's imagination.

What Setting Tells Us

The physical details of the setting are linked with the values, ideals, and attitudes of a place in different times.

Setting can add an important dimension of meaning, reflecting character and embodying theme.

The details of the setting can provide for example the clues for solving a murder and it can illuminate the deeper meaning of a story.

Finally , a setting can influence the entire novel and the readers' response to that novel . If the author describes the setting brilliantly , we can picture it without ever having been there . Magic occurs. Once we are in the midst of the setting , we are in the midst of the story.

Adapted From:
Setting- Pullman school district no.267

Page Created on September 8, 1998
 Last updated on April 1, 2009
   Copyright © 1998/2009 by Nada Salem Abisamra

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