Setting: In literature, the setting plays an instrumental role for the text. The setting is the underlying crux of the text depicting the time, place, location- essentially everything in which the story takes place. It provides context for which the plot takes place and assists in exploring elements of the text. The culture present within the text can be easily understood when the setting is defined. Ultimately the setting is an essential role of any piece of literature.
Example: In A Small Place, Jamaica Kincaid successfully illustrates an extremely prominent setting. Being from Antigua, the place in which the story is set, Kincaid had the ability to bring the setting to life from a specific cultural and social perspective. She outlines opposing perspectives of the same setting, describing the small island seen as a native verses a non-native. With Antigua being a small island, Kincaid is able to describe in great detail essential aspects of the island and comment on their historical context. The library is described as a “splendid old building from colonial times” yet Kincaid contrasts this with the description of the reality of the damage and impact the earthquake of ’74 has had on Antigua, including the library (9). The climate is described as both “deliciously hot and dry” yet “ suffers constantly from drought” (4). As the descriptive aspects of Antigua are described Kincaid provides an all around perspective of the setting. This allows for the reader to create a better understanding of the culture and the historical background of Antigua. One can also deduce the social environment as a result of the setting. For example, the unfortunate state in which the school is in, the lack of a sewage system, etc. demonstrates the lack of public funding they are receiving in Antigua. In literature, specifically Kincaid’s A Small Place, the setting plays an essential role in the overall text as a whole.
Kincaid, Jamaica. A Small Place. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1988. Print.