Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Queenborough. Fictionalized version of Virginia’s capital city, Richmond, during the early twentieth century. In the years following the Civil War, Queenborough is sharply divided into three distinct geographical areas: Washington Avenue, Granite Boulevard, and Canal Street. Queenborough society is divided by these physical delineations as well. Granite Boulevard is the neighborhood where the most expensive and elegant homes are located. Only those families who are secure financially and socially live in this neighborhood.

Washington Street houses the older families, those who lack the financial means to move to Granite Boulevard or are determined to maintain the status quo. The Archbald family, headed by General David Archbald, and the Birdsong family, consisting only of the comparatively impoverished George and Eva, are the mainstays of the upper end of Washington Street.

On the opposite end of town lies Canal Street, where only the poor families and those on the fringes of society make their homes. Though Canal Street is physically only three blocks distant from Washington Street, socially it is much farther removed.

Penitentiary Bottom

Penitentiary Bottom. Section of Queenborough near the penitentiary, where the lower classes of society live. Penitentiary Bottom is located at the lower end of Canal Street on the opposite end of town from the Archbalds and the Birdsongs. Nine-year-old Jenny Blair Archbald, curious to see where a bad smell comes from, decides to go to...

(The entire section is 638 words.)