Bedford/St. Martin's virtuaLit Interactive Fiction Tutorial Notebook VIEW SEND
Fiction in Depth Approaches and Contexts
Select a StoryElements of FictionCultural ContextsCritical Approaches


"The Story of an Hour"
Women in Late Nineteenth Century America
Kate Chopin Revealed in Her Own Words

"Young Goodman Brown"
Salem Witch Trials
Puritan New England

"Girl"
Antigua and Colonialism

Understanding the cultural context of a story can often help our understanding of some aspect of the story itself. The social, political, and economic currents surrounding a writer can, and usually do, affect the writer’s literary creation. Sometimes this influence is direct, as evidenced by Tim O’Brien’s descriptions of the Vietnam War in “How to Tell a True War Story.” Sometimes it less defined, as is the case for “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kakfa. Sometimes it seems so slight that the cultural context of a work may be important only because it seems reasonable to assume that all writers are to some degree products of their time. However, we can only appreciate if and how a story is responding to society when we explore the story’s cultural context.

Choose one of the document collections on the left to explore a cultural context further.

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