Setting Of The Daughter Essay

960 words - 4 pages

How Setting Affects the Story The location and time period of which the story is set affects the readers understanding of the tale. It makes the text more believable, as events are more realistic to time periods. People act differently in different settings. While reading, one takes into account the practicality of events and judges whether they are consistent with the time. This then affects whether the reader enjoys the story or not. Caldwell's short story "Daughter" has a setting that greatly affects the reader's interpretation of the events that unfold.The story seems to take place in the early part of the 20th century. It held some aspects that were slightly behind as well as slightly ahead of its time, however. The presence of automobiles and the reference to them as "cars" leads the reader to believe that the novel takes place after 1920. The way in which African-Americans are titled as "Negroes" and the significance of the cotton gin and share cropping give an impression of late 18th century influences.In the early 1900's and in the story "Daughter" farming was the way of life in the southern United States. The main character, Jim, made a living through sharecropping. He receives his pay in the form of food and shelter. Jim needs these to support him and his daughter, Clara, who is eight years old. After a mule on the farm dies, the owner blames Jim and revokes his shares. Actions like this were accepted in the early part of the 20th century, but are not common today. People in present society would argue that the mule did not die because of Jim. Therefore, Jim would not be responsible, and should not have to reimburse the owner because of it.In addition, society held certain beliefs that African Americans were inferior to the white race. Any resistance or disrespect towards their white counterparts would cause serious trouble. In the story, Jim is a "Negro" which affects his rights. The owner of the farm is most likely white, and expects the workers not to question his authority. There was not much Jim could do to prevent his loss of shares, and any argument could have cost him his job or possibly his life. If Caldwell had chosen to set the story in a more recent time, the reader would be more inclined to expect Jim to argue with the owner, in order to keep his money and support his daughter.While Jim is in jail, he repeatedly recites to the gathering crowd that his "Daughter woke up this morning again saying she was hungry." (Caldwell 39) The key word there is "again" which suggests that the girl had been hungry and complaining for a length of time. Human beings have a certain tolerance for annoyances, but after a time we can begin to lose...

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