Review: Narrative Devices (partial)
Setting includes several closely related aspects of a work of fiction. First, setting is the physical sensuous world of the work. Second, it's the time
in which the action of the work takes place. And third, it's the social environment of the characters: the manners, customs and moral values that
govern the characters' society. A fourth aspect *atmosphere* is largely, but not entirely, an effect of setting.
Issues to consider when thinking about the setting of a novel:
Questions about place:
You should get the details of the physical setting clear in your mind. Where does the action take place? On what planet,
in what country or locale? What sensuous qualities does the author give to the setting? That is, what does it look like, sound like, smell like, feel
like? Do you receive a dominant impression about the setting? What impression, and what caused it? Once you established the above, what
relationship does the place have to characterization and theme? In what ways does the physical, or external, setting correspond to or contrast with
the psychological, or internal, landscape? In some fiction, geographic location may be of importance.
Questions about time
: Three kinds of time occur in fiction. First, at what period in history does the action take place? Many stories occur during
historical events that affect the characters and themes in important ways. Second, how long does it take for the action to occur? How does the
author use the passage of time as a thematic and structuring device? Third, how is the passage of time perceived? Time may seem to move very
slowly or very quickly, depending on a character's state of mind. Thus, our recognition of a character's perception of time helps us understand the
character's internal conflicts and attitudes.
Questions about atmosphere
: Atmosphere refers to the emotional reaction that we and *usually* the characters have to the setting of the work.
Sometimes the atmosphere is difficult to define, but it is often found or felt in the sensuous quality of the setting.
Additional strategies for analyzing setting:
1. Mark the most extensive or important descriptions of physical place. Underline the most telling words and phrases.
2. Characterize physical locales, such as houses, rooms, and outdoor areas.
3. Explain the relationship of one or more of the main characters to the physical place. Explain the influence that place exerts on the characters.
4. Arrange the main events in chronological order. Indicate when each major event occurs.
5. Mark passages where a character's emotional state affects the way the passage of time is presented to us.
6. List the historical, factual, circumstances and characters that occur in the work. Explain their importance and their relationship with themes
and characters in the book.
7. List the patterns of behavior that characterize the social environment of the work.