The time setting in the short story “Tell Me” by Zoë Sharp is not revealed, and the author’s choice is intentional, as the events depicted in the story might as well take place at any given time, at any given place. The main events take place in the morning, probably just a few hours after the night when the young girl was attacked and killed.
The main physical setting is represented by the park where the girl’s body is found. The girl is found on the “stone steps in front of the band shelter” (p. 39, l. 12), near a rhododendron bush. As Grace McColl reveals towards the end, the park is the place “where the working girls come with the men they pick up when the clubs turn out” (p. 42, ll. 39-40), so it was not a safe place to be at night.
The social setting is illustrated by the girl, who has suffered since she was young. The following quotation hints that the girl was probably beaten and abused as a child and that she lied about it; this situation is opposed by the caring attitude Grace's mother had towards her daughter:
‘Don’t tell me,’ Grace said, setting her bag down and opening it. ‘You were always walking into doors at home, falling down the stairs.’ She shook her head. ‘Did no-one stop to wonder?’
The girl’s face darkened. ‘They knew, all right,’ she said. ‘They just didn’t give a –‘ (p. 40, ll. 9-13)