This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at setting in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. The setting of a text means the location and the time in which the events take place. Events occurring in the background, even if only alluded to by characters, are also elements of a literary text’s setting. This wider fictional world is known as context (not to be confused with the author’s real-life context). Another important component of setting is atmosphere, which, like location and time, can change multiple times in a text.
Consider the setting of your text carefully. Characters are affected by the world in which they live, fictional though it is. Authors use a character’s reported thoughts, behaviour and dialogue to show the effect political or social events have on them.
To Kill a Mockingbird is rooted in a very specific time and place. Its various settings are vivid. When the ladies on their porches appear to be melting, we can almost feel the heat, just as we might feel like fanning ourselves in the stuffy courtroom. We sense the stillness at the jail when Atticus is awaiting trouble.
Geographical setting includes region, or country, environment, the landscapes or buildings in which events occur, and even the weather. Do events occur in a variety of places, or all in the same place? Do characters travel, or arrive from elsewhere? How does the interaction of characters with their environment create meaning in the text?
It can be useful to compare the time a text is set with when it was written. Do these times differ? Why might an author choose to set a text in the past, present or future? Do the consequent differences change our understanding of the story?
Answer the questions below on setting in To Kill a Mockingbird.
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