Prof. Jessica Penner | OL02 | Spring 2021

Week 11: Setting & Context, Continued

The house smelled musty and damp, and a little sweet, as if it were haunted by the ghosts of long-dead cookies.

Neil Gaiman, American Gods

What do these words conjure up for you? What do you “see”? Is there a type of house (or a hint of a house) that comes to mind?

There! In that one sentence, Gaiman has created a setting for us.

What kind of story is going to be told? Why do you think that?

Again, Gaiman has set up context for us.

You don’t have to spend pages or paragraphs to give a story setting and context. A few well-chosen words will do the trick.

Read the poem on this website, then answer the questions the comments section of this page by class time (10 AM) on Thursday, April 15:

  1. What is the setting in the first stanza of the poem for you?
  2. How about the setting in the third stanza?
  3. The final line of the poem, “Warsaw, 1944” puts the poem in context. What was going on in Warsaw, Poland, in 1944?
  4. What do you think this poem is about with the final line?
  5. What would change if the final line was gone?

The takeaway here is that a few words can change the context of a rather peaceful setting.

Details and deadlines can be found on Week 11’s Assignment page!


  1. Jeffrey

    1: Just seeing a normal field with stuff, maybe on a cliff since they mention the sea.
    2: I’m still seeing a normal field because it’s talking about people being disappointed if they expected lightning and thunder, meaning there isn’t anything extraordinary.
    The final line of the poem, “Warsaw, 1944” puts the poem in context. What was going on in 3: Google says Warsaw, 1944 was the year of the Warsaw Uprising, meant to drive the Germans out of Warsaw.
    4: I’m guessing it’s either about the Germans not expecting the end of their world (by being shoved out of Warsaw) or the Polish stating that the Germans won’t cause a second “end of the world” (war).
    5: It’d be a strange poem about nothing happening because everything’s ordinary.

  2. Amani

    1. From the first stanza I picture an island that has a small beach with a dock for the boats and a forest or field filled with animals.
    2.In the third stanza I believe the setting is still on this island since we are told about the sky and the events on land.
    3. In Warsaw, Poland during 1944 the Polish were trying to take Warsaw from the Germans that occupied the area.
    4. Based on the last line, I think this poem is about how the Germans in Warsaw did know that their world was going to end/change because they expected destruction like the thunder and lighting also considering that WWII was happening during that time. Since nothing really happened that could’ve thought that their world was fine, except the old man.
    5. If the final line was gone everything would seem normal and we would not think that anything bad was going to happen.

  3. Ralph Ayala

    1. Some place close to the sea or close to a large body of water seeing as there is a fisher man involve.
    2. It is making me think like a field of flowers when I read the context “bee” and a Bee do like flowers.
    3. If I had to guess it is making me think that a war was coming in war saw seeing as “lightning” was portrayed in the poem.
    4. Based on the last line, I am thinking that when the people see such beautiful scenery there is no end of the world even though there are those that could expect it. So when I read “there will be no other end of the world” it makes me think that this person does not want a second tragedy to occur unlike the one stated “On the day the world ends”.
    5. It would be appear as if a normal day to those that are living in the world today is occurring.

  4. Moose

    1. I can visualize the setting to be in a place near a dock and a sea. The house is a Lake-house.
    2. The setting on the Third Stanza is the Spring at a Lake-house.
    3. During Warsaw, the Polish were trying to conquer Warsaw which belonged to Germany.
    4. Based on the Last Line I believe there was a War and the Germans who were fighting to keep Warsaw dreamed to obtain peace and peace was described in the poem when the writer described flowers spring season and by a sea.
    5. If the final line was gone the audience would be left in suspense and maybe be confused because the writer didn’t describe the goal.

  5. Will

    Q.1) Somewhere near the waters, maybe higher in elevation to be able to see all the things described.
    Q.2) I’d still say near the waters. In the stanza before it says a boat is coming near the island, which implies people are near the water to witness that.
    Q.3) Historically speaking, there is a war going on during the time this poem was written.
    Q.4) It’s about war surely. Just like the majority of countries under German invasion, the people tried to fight the best they could. The writer must’ve believed that the prolonged war would lead to the end of the world.
    Q.5) The biggest clue getting removed from the poem would really put the reader to think. The best information the reader would have is that this piece was written in 1944, Warsaw.

  6. Nelson Tavarez

    1. What is the setting in the first stanza of the poem for you?
    It feels like a spot really close to the ocean like the bay or boardwalk.
    2. How about the setting in the third stanza?
    The settings still feels like a nice field of grass area. Normal field.
    3. The final line of the poem, “Warsaw, 1944” puts the poem in context. What was going on in Warsaw, Poland, in 1944?
    world war 2 was during this time and in 1944 the home army removed Germany’s occupation of Warsaw.
    4. What do you think this poem is about with the final line?
    This is how the world would look like if it was ending. This is how it would end.
    5.What would change if the final line was gone?
    The poem wouldn’t give me such a dark thunder and world ending image. It would of felt like a peaceful time.

  7. Alexsis

    1. The setting for me is a regular spring day where nothing seems out of the ordinary.
    2. The setting in the third stanza sounds the same to because nothing bad has happened and everything still seems normal.
    3. During this time the Polish were trying to conquer Warsaw from the Germans.
    4. I think this poem is about how a war was going and it was expected that everyone’s world was going to change.
    5. No one would know this poem was about and it may come off as a happy poem because nothing bad happened to anyone even though it was expected.

  8. Joselin

    1)Based on the description the setting is near a boardwalk of a sea. The majority that was described can be found near a boardwalk.
    2)Possibly a large area where there is grass and the sky is visible since the narrator is describing the weather.
    3)The “Warsaw, 1944” did give context because in 1944 Poland tried to liberate Warsaw from the Germans.
    4)There could’ve been a war between the Polish and Germans, and the line “There will be no other end of the world” gives a positive tone meaning there might be peace.
    5)If the final line were gone the poem’s meaning will lose some of its meaning. There is still tension, but the “Warsaw 1944” gives it significance.

  9. Fnu Janvi

    1. The setting in the first stanza of the poem is in a forest, an island, on the beachside.
    2. In the thirst stanza, I don’t think there is any specific setting in the writer said that stanza. But I think something dramatic is going to happen in the poem.
    3. The final line of the poem, “Warsaw, 1944” puts the poem in context. I think the war was going on in Warsaw, Poland, in 1944 because this poem shows people’s thoughts during that war.
    4. I think the last line is a repeating line in the poem. I think this line means the world will end soon because there is a war going on.
    5. If the final line was gone, as I said, the final line is the mainline or repeating line. That two-line tells everything about the poem that the world will end.

  10. Jason Jordan

    The setting in the first stanza is the sea and the third stanza I still think it’s the sea because it didn’t state otherwise. I think a war was going on in Warsaw, Poland in 1944. I think the poem is them winning the war and if they change the final line I would think it’s a man just looking out to sea.

  11. Anna Chen

    The setting seemed to take place in a peaceful place in nature.
    The complete opposite of the first stanza, like all hope is lost for nature.
    It was the invasion of Poland during WWII.
    The poem talks about the before and after of Warsaw, how it was so beautiful before it was war stricken.
    The poem would still he understood as a place once beautiful becoming desolate, but not in the context of a war.

  12. JoharM

    1.I can only imagine the setting is on a calm peaceful boat on the oceanside.
    2.I believe the setting is before something big. nowhere special but before a special event.
    3. Despite the warsaw uprising happening through the context the poem gives us I can only assume these are in a way, short stories of the many participants of the warsaw uprising.
    4.It could very well be what I said before. Or quite possibly the other side being the Germans confident nothing could stop them.
    5.We would have lost out on the context including the bigger picture. If not for it my answer wouldve probably changed to something along the lines of answer 2.

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