Setting is a critical element of any story and can be used by the author for various purposes. For instance, in Passing by Nella Larsen, this tool is one of the factors creating the mood and helping readers to understand the main message of the author. The whole story takes place in two locations, which are Chicago and New York. The main character, Irene Westover, lives in the second city, and it is essential for the atmosphere. It is mainly depicted as a messy, hot and even hostile place where people are not happy (Larsen 1928). The dominating emotions are not cheerful, and people are mostly depressed by “boiling traffic,” and “crowded” streets of New York (Larsen 1928). The given description helps readers to understand the mood better and become more involved.
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Additionally, Larsen does not give much attention to the exact description of the setting. It is often mentioned in various scenes, but there are no full passages devoted to depicting New York of Chicago. It helps to create a specific, dull environment with the labyrinth of shops and houses that trap the main character, and she has to struggle to find her way and resist the dull pressure of the big and hostile city (Larsen 1928).
In such a way, describing these big cities, the author creates a specific setting that helps readers to understand the emotional state of the main character and become involved in the atmosphere of the story. Crowded, messy, and hostile streets press people and contribute to the creation of a depressive climate. For Passing, the given emotional colouring is essential as it helps to understand the main idea of the author and motifs peculiar to the protagonist, her evolution and actions.
Larsen, I 1928, Passing. Web.