Here, we will discuss the setting of “Mr. and Mrs. Elliot” by Ernest Hemingway.

Physical setting

The physical setting presents different important places in the lives of the Elliots. At first, the two of them meet in Boston, where Mrs. Elliot owns a tea shop. They get married there and try to have a baby in Boston, but soon leave for Europe. An important part of the physical setting is the boat on which they travel to France; here is when Mrs. Elliot’s looks begin to fade and when her general well-being degrades:

Like all Southern women Mrs. Elliot disintegrated very quickly under sea sickness, travelling at night, and getting up too early in the morning. Many of the people on the boat took her for Elliot’s mother. Other people who knew they were married believed she was going to have a baby. (ll. 6-10)


Social setting

The social setting subtly touches upon the state of the Lost Generation, which is a term used to refer to a group of American writers who gained their reputation after the First World War, in the 1920s. The Lost Generation migrated towards Paris after the war and felt alienated from the US and from the values they once held dear. In “Mr. and Mrs. Elliot”, the author hints at the Lost Generation when he presents the Elliots and their friends. The above extract shows their boredom and their lack of direction, while the following extract shows their disillusionment and their search for motivation and new forms of entertainment:

In a short time the friends began to drift back to Paris. Touraine had not turned out the way it looked when it started. Soon all the friends had gone off with a rich young and unmarried poet to a seaside resort near Trouville. There they were all very happy. (ll. 96-99)


Also, here you can read about the time setting of the story.

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