Locate the Things

Identify and describe the setting in both Barry Lopez’s story, “The Location of the River” and Tim O’Brien’s story “The Things They Carried.”  Include the way setting is used to create both a social environment and a mood. You may organize your essay point-by-point or text-by-text.

Setting is necessary—after all, stories have to take place somewhere. For some writers setting is essential to meaning and is often as important as any of a particular work’s characters. The importance and use of setting will vary from author to author and work to work.  Writers will use setting to define and shape character, to reflect emotional states, to build plot and atmosphere, or symbolize concepts. 

Setting establishes social environment, develops mood, informs characterization, and creates context. 

Writers tend to use the world they know in their writing.  It is the sights and sounds and colors and voices around them that usually end up being the inspiration or motivation or material that become transmuted into fiction.  Stories come to life in a place, and that place is within the writer’s memories.  This place or location of a story’s action along with the time in which it occurs (present day, future, 1800s, 1940s, etc.) is the story’s setting.

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