Response #8: Setting
The four purposes for setting in literature are to use the setting as a mood, to use it as an antagonist, to set a historical background, and to use it as symbolism.
Authors use the setting to create the mood of the story in an effort to make stories more believable. For example, in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, it makes much more sense for a faun, dwarf, and queen to appear in the mystical land of Narnia than in the wardrobe or even the old house itself: " 'This is the land of Narnia,' said the Faun, 'where we are now; all that lies between the lamppost and the great castle of Cair Paravel on the eastern sea. And you - you have come from the wild woods of the west?'"(Lewis, 44)
The setting can also be used as an antagonist in the plot throughout the story. A good example of this is the character-vs-setting plot in Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. The setting of the story is mainly in the wilderness following the crash of the small plane that Brian is travelling on. Brian has to fight to survive the experience of being plunged into an environment where he had few of the skills necessary to survive.
The use of setting as a historical background is extremely important in non-fiction or fictional stories. The description of language, dress, and lifestyle must all be accurate in order to differentiate between the setting being described and everyday life setting. For example, Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn is written in the days before the civil war. Twain's use of southern dialect and his description of the way of life, including slavery, accurately depict life in the south before the war changed society.
The setting of the story can also be used as a symbol. As noted in the text, the garden door in Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden is symbolic. The rejuvenated garden symbolizes the healing of the relationships throughout the story. Another example is in A. A. Milne's Winnie-The-Pooh:"Winnie-the-Pooh lived in a forest all by himself, and Christopher Robin lived behind a green door in another part of the wood.” ( 3) The green door could symbolize the real world where Christopher Robin lives with his stuffed bear, Edward Bear. On the other side of the door is the imaginary wood where Winnie-The-Pooh and all of his friends live.
Setting describes where, when, and the context in which a story takes place.
It is the backdrop for all stories. The setting of Beauty and the Beast, for example, would be France. The setting of The Great Gatsby is the 20's, and the setting of Flags of our Fathers would be the middle of a war. It is the where when and how, essentially.Prompt:
In your response, explain why the setting of your story is appropriate to the plot and characters of the story. Consider the following important aspects of setting in your response and as well as the information given in the notes above.
Is the description of the setting strong enough to place the reader inside of the story?
If the story were to take place in a different time period would the events in the story make sense?
Does the setting help make the story believable or unbelievable?
If your story could still make sense in any setting explain why this is true showing understanding of the purpose of setting in your response.
(It may help to consider if your story could be told successfully in a different setting---this may provide insight into why the author chose a particular time or place.)