Time And Place

Tilly Pecker

1600s- 1800s

Emerging shortly after the Thirty Years' War (1618 to 1648)came a period of philosophy and innovation known as the Englightenment. This was a long lating period that flourished from 1650 to 1800.
Various countries contributed to the englightenment. In England, scientists started to question nature with a sociological perspective. In France, enlightenment thinkers, also known as philosophers, emphasized the power of reason and discovering the natural laws that govern human society.

Throughout the period, new intellectual and philosophical ideas came to surface which influenced the texts of the time to a great extent.

Young Goodman Brown

When reading a text that takes place in older times, it is important to understand the events that occured and the way life was in that era because the time directly influences the decisions the character makes and the environment around them, evident throughout the story of Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hawthorne lived in in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1800s. His great grandfather had served as a Salem- witch trial judge in 1692. The Salem witch trials were a series of trials accusing women of witchcraft. It is important to be aware of this event in the time period because it shows how the spiritual idaes that people had were prominent in the time (as they were in accusing women of witchcraft).
In the story, YGB leaves his wife for the night, leaving her nervous as he takes a journey through the forest. He fears that he may encounter a supernatural force, like a devil. Throughout his journey, YGB comes in contact with various spirits and he discusses his devotion to God. After witnessing so many different spiritual visions, such as his father beckoning him forward on a rock and seeing his wife, Faith, as a convert, he is scarred. Upon arriving back home, Goodman Brown can no longer view anyone the same.

The events that happen in this story are directly tied to the time period because it was extremely spiritual. During the 1600s and 1800s, religion and spirits tied together as they determined one's views on life. This is evident in the novel because throughout Brown's encounters with spirits, he was scarred for life and looked at the world in a different way; he couldn't trust anyone in the village, didn't believe the words of the minister, and he no longer loved his wife as much as he used to.

Upon The Burning Of Our House

This short story by Anne Bradstreet reflects the englightenment era because it is written in the classical relgious style of the time period.
Bradstreet tells the story of how she was alarmed at night by a voilent fire in her home. She prayed to God to take care of her and blames God for the fire. She is not bitter to God, but she indeed misses her prized possessions. Though she misses what she treasured, she is comes to understand she has what she needs for now. Standing outside her burnt down house, she reflects on all the things she lost. She looks in devastation at her ruined possessions, feeling empty and missing. After dwelling upon what she has lost, she experiences a turning point and finds justification to the situation. She comes to the moral of the story, which is that materialistic things come and go, but all that truly matters is God.

This short story reflects the time period because it primarily deals with how God and philisophical ideas prevail of materialistic things. The enlightenment era valued spiritual aspects of life such as God and its importance, as did this short story.

Connection Between "YGB" and "Upon the Burning"

"Young Goodman Brown" and "Upon the Burning Of Our House" both reflect the time period in similar ways. Both valuing God, they connect to the spiritual aspect of the time period. In "Young Goodman Brown", Brown withstands all the devils in the forest and declares his devotion to God. In "Upon the Burning Of Our House", the narrator comes to conclude that God is all that matters in life and materialistic things are not of importance, as long as you have God. These ideas of viewing God in a positive and connected way demonstrate the ideals of the time period because the englightenemnt era was a time in which people had strong religious beliefs that tied together with a personal belief in God. Place ties into the time period and how the stories play out as well, evident in both stories. Both short stories take place majorly outside, representing how the era connects spiritual ideas with nature. Both short stories encounters with God outside in nature.


The 20th century was a time period commonly known as the Progressive Era. This was a time that in major cities, there were many new innovations as well as economic prosperity being brought to many Americans. The strive to enjoy the luxuries enjoyed in this time period is evident in the stories taking place during the era. The 20th century influenced more socialization between people, but specially between people of the same social class. If not in the same social class, people tended to talk about other people and their society ranks, as seen in texts throughout the era. In suburban 1900s, the areas were not as highly populated due to urbanization in the cities so there, people had houses on big lots of property and lived a less industrialized lifestyle.The stories written during this time reflected the time with realistic depictions of how people acted.

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby took place in the 1920s, also known as the roaring 20s. This was at the beginning of the progressive era so social class and wealth were just starting to become prominent in defining one's place in society. The Great Gatsby took place in the West and East Eggs of New York, where the new luxuries of the Progressive era were present. Telling the experience of new businessman NIck Carraway in the fancy, upscale area of New York, the story discusses how everyone strives to be viewed in the top tier and will do anything to be viewed as so, especially form facades by acting a certain way or lying about backgrounds, seen through the actions of Gatsby, Daisy, and Myrtle throughout the novel. Expressing the value of wealth and luxury, The Great Gatsby accurately depicts the roaring 20's.

The Pines

Written in the late 1960s, John McPhee's novel accurately explains the lifestyle in suburban New Jersey. In the sparsely populated and developed Pines, the small population is brought together as seen through the relationship between Fred Brown and Bill Wasovwich. The Pines represents how in the time, it is not developed compared to the urban cities when Fred apolgizes to the narrator for not having a landline: "I don't have no electric. If I had electric, I would have a phone a long time ago. Their location influences what they have because at the time, phones were popular and available in urban cities, but not in small towns in the middle of New Jersey.

Though they don't have all the updates and luxuries available in urban cities, those who live in the pines of New Jersey took pride in enjoying its natural life, sometihng rare in a time of industrialization.

Connection Between "Gatsby" and "The Pines"

Both stories reflect the time period in the place which they were located. Gatsby accurately reflected the time period because the progressive era was a time when urbanization was popular and the cities were bustling with people looking to rise to the top of the upper class which was evident through the actions of all the characters in the story of Gatsby. The Pines also reflects the time period because in the time of urbanization, many people left the suburbs for the city so it was accurately depicted as sparsely populated and not as developed as the city.

1970- Present

Though the civil rights movements occurred in the 1960s, the tensions between social and racial groups remained prominent throughout the 90s and some tensions are still present in society today, as reflected in many texts written throughout these years.

Things We Knew When the House Caught Fire

This story accurately depicts the time period because it shows the tensions between those who comfortably live in the California suburb and those how "did not fit". These were known as the Bainers. In this town, those who fit in had steady incomes, "sport utility cars, franchise coffee, a daycare where you pay overtime..". On the other hand, the Bainers had "tattered corduroys" and were not of such high calibre. This ties directly to the time period because since the Bainers were of a lower class, they were looked down upon by others in society.

Black Men In Public Space

Black men in public space by Brent Staples is a story that explains the racism against African Americans and how prejudice against them remains present today. Staples explains how blacks tend to be associated with lower class, dangerous or "sketchy" people on the streets of New York. Staples recalls his experience on the streets as an innocent man minding his own business, but others on the street walk nervously at a brisk pace as if he is a threat to them. His short stories telling his experiences reflect the time period because since blacks may be interpreted as lower class or not in the top tier, the upper class may undermine them.

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