4 Narratives with a Strong Setting

The Open Window by Henri Matisse

The Setting in a narrative or a fictional piece of work can refer to a period in time or a geographic place. Along with style, plot, characters, it is considered an important component of storytelling. 
Setting is not just the place or the background; it is the mood that dictates the story. 

There are many books and pieces of fiction where the setting is overwhelming, so much so that it decides how the story would move along. 

Here are a few of my favorites. 

1. Riders to the Sea by J. M. Synge 

In this classic play, it is the sea that forms the backdrop to this tragedy. It is the sea that shapes the life of the protagonists and it is the sea that is the witness to the tribulations of the inhabitants of the Aran islands. 

The sea is all pervading and it never leaves the subconscious of the characters or the readers. 

2. The Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood

In this short story, it is the Arctic that is a strong contender for a character. Revenge unfolds against the “vast cool sweeps of ice and rock and sea and sky”. And as the central character Verna says that the landscape is uncluttered, which makes the story progress linearly towards a cold blooded murder. 

3. Matisse stories by A. S. Byatt 

In this collection of stories, three tales are masterfully written and inspired in some way by a painting of Henri Matisse. The stories are evocative and capture a relationship between seeing and feeling. 

Just like the paintings, the writing is vibrant and nearly explodes with color. 

4. Making a Mango Whistle by Bibhutibhushan Bandhopadhyay 

It is the countryside in this delightful adaptation of the famous ‘Pather Panchali’ for children that shapes the world that the children, Durga and Apu live in. 

The forest around the tiny village is where the children grow up, exploring and experiencing. The monsoon swoops down suddenly and the forest transforms from being magical to something fearful. All through the book, the children embrace nature even more than the people around them. 

Dear Reader, please share the books and short stories that you like where the Setting is bold and influences the narrative strongly. 

This listicle is part of Friday Listicles, a weekly feature that professes our love for anything that is presented in a numbered or bulleted form, paving the way for a happy weekend. 

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