Discuss the significance of the settings in "Once Upon A Time?"

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The most significant setting would be the house of the family in the short story.  This is the setting of choice for the family.  As they become more inwardly drawn because of fear of the outside world, they must retreat to their home.  The home becomes the setting for the gate with the sign in capital letters, the wall, the barbed wire enclosure with the jagged glass pieces, and the shrieking burglar alarm.  The home is the setting for the family to which they retreat because of the inability to deal with the outside world and the insecurity within it.  The family stops going for walks and simply remains inside their home, thinking that they can avoid the terror and fear that exists in the outside world until it ends up visiting them in the worst possible way.  If there could be one more setting of significance, it might be Gordimer's home.  It is her home with the old floorboards creaking and in the relatively safe neighborhood where she is awoken to her own fears, something she must keep in check so that her own fears don't control her.  It is her home that is a representation of how to effectively deal with the insecurity and doubt of the modern setting and the home of the family that represents a manner of how to not effectively address that which may prove unsettling.


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