Time and physical setting

The short story “The Red Line” by Charles Higson was published in 1993, and it is probably meant to be read as contemporary to the time of publishing. This is suggested, for example, by the type of music played at the killer’s favourite bar, after karaoke night is cancelled: “All bleeps and funny voices.” (p. 66, l. 20) His description suggests that the bar plays electronic music, a genre which became popular in the UK in the late 1980s.

The short story takes place in the London Underground. The characters share the same carriage one evening. The story is structured in several chapters, each named after an Underground subway station on the Northern line: “Oval” (p. 62); “Embankment” (p. 63), etc. This contributes to the realism of the story and marks the passing of time, as it suggests the events in each chapter take place on the way between one station and the next. 

Social setting

The social setting deals with several aspects related to life in London, as well as with being a foreigner, relationships and gender issues, and mental illness.

Life in London

The social setting deals with several aspects related to life in London. Berto is an Italian man who perceives London as “vast and confusing” (p. 64.l. 5). The subway carriage is a refuge from the disconcerting world outside: he describes it as “warm” (p. 64, l. 1) and “like a capsule, an air bubble, bouncing around London” (p. 67, ll. 16-17). However, his perception of safety turns out to be ironic as he is finally murdered by an unnamed man in this carriage. Through Berto's situation, the story presents the violence in London. Also, Berto’s murder, as w...

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