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A good man is hard to find and the necklace

In a narrow sense, setting refers to the time and place a story occurs--the when and where. In this regard, setting is a crucial factor in the creation of fiction. The most elementary analysis of setting should indicate these two aspects of time and place.

  • The story concerns a young Irish soldier, Bonaparte, and his friend Noble, who are assigned to guard two English prisoners, Hawkins and Belcher;
  • After Hawkins is dead, Belcher tries to tie a handkerchief around his own eyes.

Often, a general setting contributes a good man is hard to find and the necklace more to a story than a time and a place for the action to occur. In a broader sense, the setting becomes the world through which the characters move. Just as you are affected by your surroundings and your world, so are the characters in a well-written story affected by the world they live in.

The setting of a story may work to show that the conditions of a chosen time and place have some influence on characters in the story. These conditions are usually historical, cultural, economic, political, social, seasonal, or psychological in nature. They work to create the total environment--or world--of a setting. This larger sense of setting may serve to reflect the mood of characters in the story; may influence the behavior of characters or cause conflicts for them; may affect the point of view or help to create the tone; may symbolically parallel a character's situation; or may in some other way have figurative implications.

In essence, setting can serve these various functions: In some stories, the setting may be symbolic or ironic. Nathaniel Hawthorne uses the village and the woods to illustrate a conflict between good and evil in "Young Goodman Brown. And in Gail Godwin's "A Sorrowful Woman," a depressed housewife ironically survives the winter, the season of death, only to commit suicide in the spring, the season of rebirth.

Some stories have rather blatant uses of symbolic settings. In many stories, rivers, roads, or trails represent the journey of life. Hills represent conflicts, as do a variety of other barriers or obstacles. Spring is the season of rebirth or rejuvenation, fall the season of old age, and winter the season of death.

Storms can suggest conflict or emotional turmoil. Light and dark are often used in settings with various contrasting purposes. Sometimes they represent the contrasts of innocence and experience, respectively, or of knowledge and ignorance.

How Setting Is Revealed Setting can be revealed in a variety of ways. Then, the general setting must be deduced through references to characters' dress or language, current events, or to certain objects, such as vehicles, money, movies or music, etc.

  • Donovan and Bonaparte go into the "pitch-dark" house to retrieve the two Englishmen, and "no one thought of lighting the lamp;
  • Your typed essay and Works Cited list must be double-spaced;
  • Madame Forestier went to her mirrored wardrobe, took out a large box, brought it back, opened it, and said to Madame Loisel;
  • Minor conflicts are also present in the story, namely the Irish vs.

On a surface level, many settings seem to be insignificant or only a backdrop for the action. Thurber's World War II setting explains the office dynamics in the central character's company. Street names in Paris have special significance in Maupassant's story. Often, when a setting is general and serves mainly as a background for the story, the author may be suggesting a more universal appeal of the central idea.

But if a story has an underlying symbolic level, the setting may have a very special significance. At last, in a crucial action in the story, she must cross the bayou, which has a profound effect on her character.

Analyzing Setting The analysis of setting should consider its significance in the story and its effects on characters.

Does the setting have significance beyond its simple time and place? Do the setting and background events influence the characters or their problems?

Does some aspect of the setting symbolize the central character's conflict or goal? Does the setting contain marked uses of contrast or juxtaposition?

If so, what might these contrasts or juxtapositions represent? Are these contrasts or juxtapositions suggestive of some sort of conflict? Does the setting help to establish the tone or central idea? Your analysis should first identify the time and place of the story. But an analysis should discuss not only what the setting is, but also how the setting works to affect other elements in the story.

  • Two large tears ran slowly from the corners of her eyes towards the corners of her mouth;
  • These devices will be discussed in more detail later;
  • The conclusion restates the thesis and elaborates on the central idea;
  • Madame Forestier went to her mirrored wardrobe, took out a large box, brought it back, opened it, and said to Madame Loisel;
  • In this stark contrasting setting, then, O'Connor puts the morality of his main character to test.

The reader should interpret how the setting functions in the overall story. A thesis statement for an analysis of setting should consider the function that setting performs in the story. Two or more secondary elements should be considered as well. Here is an example for "Guests of the Nation": O'Connor uses the isolated Irish setting to reveal Bonaparte's internal conflict and dynamic character. A Detailed Example of Setting Analysis Here's an example of how setting might be employed in a story.

Be aware that this discussion illustrates the use of setting in the story, but it is not a well-organized analytical essay as you are required to do. See the sample analytical essay on "Guests of the Nation" below.

Before you continue in this lecture, you should read "Guests of the Nation" in Fiction 100 or elsewhere. In "Guests of the Nation," Frank O'Connor makes use of several interesting setting devices to make his story more effective. The story concerns a young Irish soldier, Bonaparte, and his friend Noble, who are assigned to guard two English prisoners, Hawkins and Belcher.

The Irish soldiers and their British captives become friendly, so when the order comes down that the two English prisoners are to be executed, Bonaparte is faced with a moral dilemma.

There have been longstanding conflicts between the British and the Irish, mostly on religious grounds. At the time the story is set, the two nations are in armed conflict.

Many students seem to think Bonaparte is French, perhaps recalling Napoleon Bonaparte, but the story clearly establishes Bonaparte as Irish and as the central character of the story. The particular setting of the story is a small house in or near a bog. Because of the differing types of characters that inhabit the house, it becomes a microcosm or small universe for society at large.

The bog represents the moral quagmire that overtakes Bonaparte in the course of the story. The author also uses symbolic setting devices of inside-outside and light-dark. These devices will be discussed in more detail later. At the beginning of the story, dusk is falling, so Hawkins lights a lamp, and the four men--Bonaparte, Noble, Hawkins, and Belcher--play a friendly game of cards in the circle of light.

Bonaparte's superior officer, Donovan, occasionally drops by to watch the game. Already in the beginning, certain character traits are revealed. Donovan is said to be similar to Belcher; both men are older, more experienced, and more pragmatic. They both have a sense of duty, even if they don't understand why. Later, Hawkins and Noble are shown to be similar; these two men are younger, they are more impulsive, and they are more concerned with their own personal beliefs and principles.

So the minor character-foil triangle is well established.

Expert Answer

The two older men represent experience and a sense of duty. The two younger men represent inexperience or innocence and a sense of personal principles. Caught between the two concepts is the central character, Bonaparte. Bonaparte's beginning key trait of innocence or personal principles or conscience is established early in the story.

In paragraph 3, he says he sees no reason why they should be guarding the Englishmen. They are not likely to escape, and in fact Hawkins knows the countryside better than the Irishmen. Bonaparte even argues with Donovan about the need to guard the prisoners. Bonaparte regards them as chums, and he has no sense of the two Englishmen as enemies. At the beginning, Bonaparte has no great commitment to duty or to his own principles.

He just does what he has to do. Bonaparte's central internal conflict emerges: As you can see, the central conflict can be expressed in a variety of ways.

Within the circle of light inside the house, the men are friends, not enemies. They can argue without fighting. But outside the house, in the darkness, is war between the nations. The author's use of light and dark, inside and outside, reflects Bonaparte's internal conflict. Minor conflicts are also present in the story, namely the Irish vs.

Catholic, and atheistic vs. These are all man vs. In section I of the story, the atmosphere is relaxed. Everyone is chummy, and camaraderie is evident. Bonaparte and Noble, as inexperienced but earnest young soldiers, take over guarding the prisoners with "a natural feeling of responsibility.

In section II, the tension begins to mount. Donovan says that he does not really like the Englishmen.

The inciting incident is revealed when Donovan tells Bonaparte that the Englishmen are hostages and they likely will be shot. Notice that Donovan delivers this news to Bonaparte outside the house, in the darkness. At this point, Bonaparte's central internal conflict is firmly established. What choice will he make? Notice also that Bonaparte delivers the news to Noble in darkness.

In section III, the conflicts intensify quickly. Before the evening card game begins, before the lamp is lighted, the news that the Englishmen will be shot comes quickly, and the reader is as shocked as Bonaparte is. The abruptness of the news has more of an impact than the facts, which were basically predetermined.

In this section, the nature of duty is discussed, and it is suggested that duty comes from a passion for justice.