Describe the setting in the first three chapters.

Expert Answers
Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I see from the answers above that the title of Journey to Topaz wasn't originally included in your question.  I am glad the title has been clarified because now your question can be easily answered in just a few words: 1941 in Yuki's home in Berkeley.

Remember that setting always consists of time and place, and both are dealt with in the first "few chapters" of Journey to Topaz.  We learn very early on that it is early December in 1941 and Yuki is really looking forward to Christmas in her home at Berkeley.  The setting gets really specific in that we learn Yuki's family rents the house (and doesn't own it), but it's big enough and nice enough for Yuki's mom to have people over.  Yuki's family, then, (along with her brother, Ken) live comfortably in this setting.  There is even enough room for Pepper, the family dog, to have a place to play out in the backyard.  As a further element to the backyard setting in Berkeley, we learn that Yuki's father tends to the garden fastidiously, and there is quite an extravagant fishpond out there that is home to a big gray carp.  The neighborhood is a nice one.  Yuki, her brother, and her parents have many friends there.

Here is a positive setting and a positive beginning to a story that gradually gets more and more tragic for Yuki's family.  Of course, the attack on Pearl Harbor changes everything:

Father put down his chopsticks and listened intently. Mother brushed away a piece of hair that had strayed from her bun and pinned it back into place. A frown swept across her pleasant face and she didn't even attempt to eat her lunch. Only Yuki had a mouthful of chicken and sat chewing silently, looking first at Father and then at Mother, trying to understand what had happened.

Even the setting from here on out will take a drastic turn, as Yuki's family discovers two new despairing settings:  the camp at the Tanforan Race Track, and the camp at Topaz.

smathern eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In order to answer this question, you would need to provide the title of the book that you are working from.  However, I can help you determine the setting and what types of information might help you answer this question for any book.

First, determine where the story takes place - is it in a small town in the Midwest, New York City, or a fictional country?  Think about this location, and all the information that you already know about this type of setting.  For instance, if the story is set in a large city, you might know that this means the characters might walk to school, work, or the store instead of driving.  They might take a taxi to get to the airport, and they might live in an apartment instead of a house.

Next, figure out the time period of the book.  Is the book set in the past, the present, or the future?  This will determine how the characters behave, and the plot of the story.  For example, if the book is set in 1830, there will be no computers, cars, or even fast food restaurants.  The characters might speak differently, and they might have different problems to deal with.

Finally, think about the plot of the story.  What happens in the book, and how does the setting (time and place) seem to affect what happens?  Setting can change the plot a lot, so make sure you have a complete and thorough understanding of the setting as you read.

miafeng | Student

You'd better offer more information about the question. Anyway, the first step to answer the question is to understand what the setting of a book or novel is. Setting can refer to a specific place, historical time or social circumstance the characters or speakers involve in. So when you analyze the setting, you should think of some questions like:

1)3W: when and where does the story happen? and who is the main character?(consider his/her background including occupation and social status)

2)Does the story happen in a certain historical time such as WWI or Industrial Revolution?

3)Does the author set the story in a specific social background? For example in Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine, the writer tells a story about Ameriindian who have their own social community.

However, if the author does not directly indicate where or when the story happens, he/she may give some cules to readers such as character's clothes, speech style and buildings.

Good Luck!   

theyac | Student

I am assuming the since the topic says "Journey to Topaz," that is the book to which you are referring. However, for future reference please be more detailed in your question, it helps us out a lot.

First of all, let me give a brief description of what setting is, so you know for future questions you may have. Setting is the historical point in time and the geographical location in which a story takes place. To determine the setting you must ask yourself two questions. 1.) When is the story occurring? 2.) Where is the story occurring? If you can answer these two questions you can determine the setting. Keep in mind that the setting may change throughout the story.

On to Journey to Topaz. The story begins in December 1941 in Berkeley, California. The first three chapters are set in Berkeley in the weeks leading up to Christmas. 

bubblemint222 | Student

The first thing you want to do when describing the setting is to establish when and where the story is taking place. Take a look at these steps when trying to find the setting over the course of a few chapters:

1.) Look for context clues for what time period the story might be taking place in. Is it the Renaissance? The French Revolution? Civil War? Even something as modern as the 1980s or possibly even in the past 5 years. Discovering what era the book takes place during will help you gain a better understanding of the mindset, culture, and events taking place during the life of the characters that could affect the way they think, feel, and go about their daily lives.

2.) Next make sure that you understand the physical placement of the story. A story could have the exact same plot and characters but if one version took place in Paris, France and another took place in Chicago, IL the stories would have to alter even if only slightly. For example, the school system in France is very different from the school system in America. Even some schools in America have completely different curriculums. If a story was taking place in an American high school, finding out if the characters follow a blocked schedule or a daily schedule could really affect number of interactions some characters could have with one another. Establishing where the story takes place will help you have a much better understanding of the daily lives of the characters.

Good Luck and I hope this helps!

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Journey to Topaz

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