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Teaching The Setting of a Story: Short Stories for Teaching Setting

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 2/14/2012

Use the following short stories for teaching setting. I've even included lesson ideas.

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    Short Stories for Teaching the Setting of a Story

    The definition for setting is time and place. Teaching the setting of a story, however, means more than listing time and place. It means discussing how the setting impacts characters and events. The following short stories will help you do just that:

    1. "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allen Poe: Montresor leads Fortunato into the catacombs to bury him alive. Fortunato believes they are going to get some amontillado.
      • Poe's description of the catacombs heightens the danger and creates a suspenseful mood. Engage your artistic students by having them draw the catacombs (white boards work well). Another idea is to list details and describe what effect the detail has on Fortunato. For example, the nitre makes him cough.
    2. "The Machine that Won the War" by Isaac Asimov: We all think the future will be full of complex computers and machines that will make life care free and wonderful. Technology saves the world in "The Machine that Won the War," but it's not the high tech machine you probably thought it was.
      • A good prereading activity is to examine recent technological breakthroughs, look at modern machines, and make predictions about the future.
    3. "The Invalid's Story" by Mark Twain: The narrator explains why he looks like a married man of sixty even though he is a bachelor of forty-one. Mark Twain is at his satirical finest.
      • The physical environment plays a major role in the development of Twain's story. Identify, as you read, smells, sounds, feelings, sights, and tastes. Explain how these details affect the narrator.
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    More Short Stories for Teaching the Setting of a Story

    The definition for setting is time and place. Teaching the setting of a story, however, means more than listing time and place. It means discussing how the setting impacts characters and events. The following short stories will help you do just that:

    1. "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut: Finally, everyone is equal, but I don't think this is what the founding fathers had in mind.
      • The setting is in the future. The laws that govern the future are what influence the action of the story and contribute to its theme. The society in which Harrison Bergeron lives regards equality as the end result. Instruct students to list details that show the disastrous consequences of forcing equality as an end and not as the means to an end. Because the setting in Science Fiction is critical, you may want to look at these science fiction stories as well.
    2. "The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs: Herbert White mocks the magical monkey's paw...until he gets crushed by a machine at work.
      • The setting, Labernum Villa, the middle of nowhere during a torrential downpour, establishes mood and serves as foreshadowing to the horrible events about to occur. List details that contribute to the ominous mood.
    3. "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment" by Nathaniel Hawthorne: Four old friends gather in Dr. Heidegger's study for a peculiar experiment.
      • On the surface the story takes place in a laboratory. Hawthorne, however, adds details and transforms Dr. Heidegger's lab into something supernatural.

Grace

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