The setting of a short story dramatically affects the characters as evident in “The Things They Carried,” “A Worn Path,” and “A Jury of Her Peers.” The setting of a literary work can have a significant effect on the characters, and can affect they way they act, feel, and they way they perceive the world around them. First, we will look at how the setting affects the characters in “A Jury of Her Peers.”
The setting of “A Jury of Her Peers” dramatically affects the characters in this story. The location of Minnie Wright’s farm contributes to the reason why she murdered her husband. This is evident when Mrs. Hale says that the farm “had always been a lonesome looking place. It was down in a hollow, and the popular trees around it were lonely-looking trees.” (Glaspell 68) The farm being a lonesome place made Minnie feel lonely and discouraged. Also, the time period in which this story occurs is a time when the women of the household were burdened with many responsibilities, and they were expected to complete all of their responsibilities without the help of another person. This could contribute to the way Minnie felt, and it could have discouraged her because she was overloaded by the work around the house that needed to be done. Next, we will examine the affects of setting on the soldiers in “The Things They Carried.”
“The Things They Carried” is set in Vietnam during the Vietnam War in the late 1960’s. This setting affects the characters in a significant way because it is a solemn, horrifying place. This is evident when the narrator says, “because you could die so quickly, each man carried at least one large compress bandage. Because the nights were cold, and because the monsoons were wet, each carried a green plastic poncho…” (O’Brien 156) This quote illustrates how it was easy to get killed in the war in Vietnam, which evokes a feeling of fear in the characters. It also illustrates that it was cold and wet, and this affects the characters by making them feel lonely and solemn. Another way the setting affects the characters can be seen when Tim O’Brien explains the things that the men carried with them and how much each item weighed, for example, “on their feet they carried jungle boots-2.1 pounds…” The author incorporates this into the story to convey the burdens and hardships the soldiers carried with them, and to emotionally connect the readers with the characters. Last, we will probe how the setting affects Phoenix in “A Worn Path.”
The affects of the setting of “A Worn Path” are very evident. This story is set in the rural south in a time when racism was very much alive. This affects Phoenix Jackson on her journey into town, and this conflict is evident when she has an encounter with the whiter hunter. The hunter is very condescending and racist when he says to Phoenix, “I know you colored people! Wouldn’t miss going to town to see Santa Claus!” (Welty 176) Another element of this setting that affects Phoenix is that it is set in the woods, and she has to overcome many obstacles. These obstacles include the cold, an uphill climb, crossing a log laying across a creek, and crawling under a barbed wire fence.
The setting of a literary work plays a major role in how the characters feel and act. In “A Jury of Her Peers” the location of the farm make Minnie feel sad and she murders her husband. How quickly one can die in Vietnam evokes a feeling of fear in the characters in “The Things They Carried.” And the racial troubles and physical obstacles that Phoenix Jackson has to endure in “A Worn Path” create major conflicts and affect the way she feels. No matter the literary work, the setting of it will always create an affect on the characters in the story.
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