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If we read the story carefully, we can see that the date of when the story is set is provided for us. The action of the story is set during World War I, and there is a parallel between the way in which war led to the death of numerous soldiers that America was forced to watch helplessly die just as Doodle suffered and died. Note the following quote from the story that makes the timing of the setting of the story clear:
That summer, the summer of 1918, was blighted... And during that summer, strange names were heard through the house: Chateau-Thierry, Amiens, Soissons, and in her blessing at the supper table, Mama once said, "And bless the Pearsons, whose boy Joe was lost in Belleau Wood."
We see that whilst Doodle and the narrator struggle to train Doodle and to make him more physically active, at the same time another kind of conflict is occurring and intruding upon their lives, even though it is so far away. The year is clearly given, and the references to famous battles in Europe adds to this impact.
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