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In the story "Shot in the Dark," which part of the story tells us that it was written and set in the past?

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Olen Bruce eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One clue that this story is set in the past and was written in the past is that Bertie is fishing for money and only comes up with a sixpence, which the author refers to earlier as a sixpenny. The sixpence is an outdated English coin that used to be worth six pence, or one-fortieth of a pound sterling. The pound was formerly worth 240 pence. After the United Kingdom decimalized its money system in 1971, the pound was worth 100 pence (called "new pence"). The sixpence continued to be accepted as legal tender until 1980, when it was discontinued. When the United Kingdom decimalized its currency, the 5 pence and 10 pence coins became more useful than the sixpence. Bertie's use of a sixpence coin tells the reader that this story was written and takes place in the past, as modern writers and readers would likely not recognize the sixpence coin.

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The opening clues us in that "Shot in the Dark" was written and set in the past, for in this story, trains appear to be the normal way to travel. If the story were set in our time, it's much more likely that Philip Sletherby would drive down to the country estate in question.

Reinforcing the fact that most people travel by train, Sletherby runs into a club acquaintance on the train platform. Further, while on the train, Sletherby shares a compartment with a traveling companion who claims to be his hostess's second son, Bertie. As his hostess is socially important, and as Sletherby and his friend belong to a club, indicating they are also in the middle or upper class, we know that even well-to-do people travel by train. This would be far more typical of the world of a century ago than today.

Finally, Bertie asks to borrow three pounds to pay for his weekend trip—today you would need far more money than that for even a very modest weekend vacation.

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