The importance of the setting in the stories "The Destructors" and "Her First Ball", as well as in the play The Fly in the Ointment is that they provide the backdrop to a series of events that will greatly contrast what the reader foreshadows to what actually will occur. Moreover, the settings of each of these stories create the atmosphere that the authors desire to instill in the psyche of the audience.
In "Her First Ball" Mansfield describes a setting of youth, glitter, and carelessness that is seen through the eyes of a young socialite, Leila, as she attends her first ball. All that glitters and shines is the central imagery in the setting, only to sort of lose its lustre after Leila hears from "the fat man" about the sad and actual realities of life.
In "The Destructors", the setting is London, 1950's and WWII still looms in the destruction that surrounds the scenery. The fact that there is only one beautiful house still standing from the shambles denotes that there is always one glimmer of hope left even during the darkest hours. However, Trevor insists on destroying it. This is the battle of Trevor against his destructive instinct. Sure, he can go ahead and destroy it. But, why? For what reason? Hence, the setting in this story is also Trevor's reality: It represents the battle between instinct and reason during a dark and violent time.
Similarly, The Fly in the Ointment foreshadows, in its setting, the horrid relationship between Harold and his father. The setting of the play makes allusion to death, depression, and nostalgia to describe the state of the firm and what surrounds the father's ultimate downfall
tombstones, dribbling, desert, patch
The successful son meeting the psychologically abusive father who suffers a major downfall is allegorical to the death of the filial love that should bond the men. Instead, the sense of desolation is big enough to separate them forever. This is how the setting foreshadows everything to be bleak, and negative.