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The setting is an important narrative element in prose.

In some stories, it
even plays a main part in the conflict. This occurs in the short stories Blackout by
Roger Mais and To Da-duh, in Memoriam by Paule Marshall.
Blackout is set in Jamaica during World War II. Jamaica is contrasted with
America. At this time, Jamaica has an electricity conservation policy meaning that,
during the night, the city is in partial blackout. At the time of their meeting, it is
dark and the atmosphere is one of tension in the city due to the rumours of
hooligans attacking women. Furthermore, the Jamaicans are strong and proud of
their heritage.
In To Da-Duh, in Memoriam, the setting is also in a Caribbean country- St.
Andrews, Barbados. It is also contrasted with America, more specifically, New York.
An old lady tries to showcase the natural beauty of her country to her
granddaughter. St. Andrews has sugar-canes, orchards, the Bissex hill and, the
tallest thing known by the grandmother, a royal palm.
Blackout is set during the dark, tense time when the black man approaches
the white woman at a bus stop to ask for a light for his cigarette. The woman, being
a firm racist, finds it interesting that she was approached by a black man, especially
at this time. After having to use her cigarette to give him a light, she carelessly
tosses it away, no longer wanting to use it. Unlike America, the people of Jamaica do
not believe in superiority of any racial group over another. The black man coldly and
sarcastically apologised for making her waste an entire cigarette. She then thinks
that it is indecent to be jawing with a black man at a dark street corner. They
argue for a while until the bus comes and she leaves. The setting is also symbolic as
the blackout shows the darkness in the womans mind- both as ignorance of the
truth and as wickedness.
In To Da-Duh, in Memoriam, the American girls Da-Duh tries to show her
that her home, St. Andrews, is by far superior in every way to the little girls own.
She shows her all the trees, sugar-cane and the hills. The little girl speaks about all
the snow and the industrialization: the technology and the tall buildings. In this
queer competition, the Da-Duh pulls out her trump card, a royal palm, in an
attempt to woo her granddaughter. The granddaughter, however, combats it the
Empire State Building. Even though Da-Duh feels defeated, the little girl comes to
see the richness of Da-Duhs life. Unfortunately, both Da-Duh and her culture
pass away due to technology, that is, aeroplanes.
In Blackout, the choice of narrator is effectively used to develop the story.
Using the white woman as narrator gives us an insight into the mind of a racist. It
shows us how she perceives black people. This narrative technique effectively
reveals that humans ascribe attitudes and motives to others, making assumptions
based on prejudice. For example, she described the man as being coldly
speculating, contemptuous and aloof.
In To Da-Duh, in Memoriam, the theme is very significant. It is not just
about a girl and her grandmother trying to persuade the other that their life is
better. It is about the difference in cultures and the generation gap. The traditional
Caribbean lifestyle centred on nature is contrasted with the industrialized American

lifestyle. Although the little girl initially believes New York to be more interesting
than boring Barbados, she is eventually swayed by the grandeur of nature.
In both stories, the setting plays an important role. The setting of the
Caribbean is contrasted with America. In both cases, it is shown that the Caribbean
values and morals by far outweigh those of America.

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