Physical setting

Hanif Kureishi’s short story “The Decline of the West” is set at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Mike talks about the “word of the post-9/11 era” (l. 45), suggesting that the events of the story take place after the terrorist attacks which happened on 11 September 2001. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the financial crash described in the story (l. 148) refers to the financial crisis that began in 2007 and intensified in 2008.

The action of the story takes place over the span of one day. There are no clear cues about the time of day, but Mike returns home from work and has to switch on the garden lights (l. 18), showing that it is most likely evening or late afternoon. The action ends at night, when Mike puts Billy to sleep (l. 181).

The story is set in London, which is the capital city of England and the United Kingdom. This is significant, as the United Kingdom is an important Western country with worldwide influence. Kent, another area of England, is also mentioned in the text (l. 42).

When the story begins, Mike is on the underground, heading home fro...

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