Setting refers to the place, time and the social environment at which a novel, novella or short story is represented as happening. It is the historical period, geographical place and social-cultural context in which the events of a story occur. Setting is simply the place and time of a story. It answers the questions of where and when. The time and place can be real or fictional, or a combination of both real and fictional elements.
The setting may include the environment of the story which can be made up of physical location, climate, weather, or social and cultural surroundings.
Place: – the geographical place where the events of a story take place like inside the house, in the valley, on the mountain, in a garden, in the village, in a sea, in an ocean, in Kigali city, in Rwanda, in Nyungwe Forest, at school, in a prison, in Africa, in China…
Time: –the actual time in which the events of a story occur, like at 5h00’ A.M, during the night, on Monday, in August, in 2019….
–the historical period in which the events of a story occur, as Before Christ, in Middle Ages, precolonial era, colonial era, postcolonial era, post-independence period, post genocide period, during the Cold War or the computer age.
Weather conditions: In the story, the weather can be rainy, sunny or stormy.
The social-cultural environment: This refers to the immediate physical and social setting in which characters live or in which something happens or develops. It includes the characters’ social interactions, culture, beliefs, among others. Therefore, the story can be set in a traditional society, in urban or rural environment.
The setting can be identified through the names of places, people or items. Some events are also historical and can guide in identifying the time setting of the story. For example, chiefdom was practised in traditional African communities. This can be used to analyze the setting of the story.
The types of setting are:
The social setting: It refers to the physical environment in which the events of a story happen. Ex: In a town, a slum, a suburb, upcountry, village…
The historical setting: It is the specific time in which the events in a story happen. Ex: Before Christ, pre/post-colonial era, colonial period, during WW II, …
Cultural setting: It includes the patterns of behaviours and beliefs that dominate the society in which the characters live. It includes the family relations, moral values, gender roles, customs, beliefs…
Political setting: It refers to the prevailing political situation around which a story revolves. A story could condemn bad governance or unequal distribution of national resources.