The setting in a short story is a crucial feature which completely initiates in which direction the plot will go, the personality of the characters that will be further developed, and of course, the underlying theme. The physical surrounding including the time of day, atmosphere, mood, and time period are all aspects, which encompass the setting in a story. Setting is used in both the short stories "Sunday in the Park," by Bel Kaufman and "The Open Car," by Thomas King as a means of fabricating a larger theme. Although both stories deal with entirely different issues and portray contrasting settings, a comparable theme of stereotypes between the people of today's society is clearly evident. .
The setting of Bel Kaufman's short story entitled, "Sunday in the Park" is meant to be an enjoyable afternoon at the park, yet because of the ill-mannered father it soon evolves into quite the opposite. Tensions rise as the mood grows dark and vengeful, spoiling all hopes of a peaceful day with parents and child. The different attitudes people have towards social interaction and conflict resolution are displayed through the setting of the mischievous child in the sandbox throwing sand at the other child. The distinct division between the two fathers point of view and social class is apparent from the line, "My kid's got just as good a right here as yours, and if he feels like throwing sand, he"ll throw it, and if u don't like it, you can take your kid the hell out of here." This all relates to the underlying theme of stereotypes as the fathers test their wit in order to return the setting of the park favourable to them and their child. .
The short story "The Open Car" written by Thomas King successfully incorporates the use of a realistic setting which is made up of interweaving events from two separate time periods. The main setting is in present time on a train ride from Toronto to New York with pleasant atmosphere, an abundance of food, and beautiful views of the countryside.