Short stories revolve around five common elements: plot, setting, character, theme, and conflict. Out of these five, setting is one of the best tools to shape a short story. The settings of short stories are often tied to the social customs of their respective time periods, which helps shape the stories themselves immensely. In the short stories "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin and "Battle Royal" by Ralph Ellison, the setting is a big influence on each story.
Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" is set in the late nineteenth century. During this time period women were repressed and treated as unequal and inferior to their husbands and men in general. Because of the ideas and customs of this era, a woman's social standing was often determined by her marriage. These factors often meant a life of solitude and emotional independence. The short story "The Story of an Hour," by Kate Chopin, plays a big role in presenting the main character, Mrs. Louise Mallard, and showing her escape from oppression at the cost of her life. One aspect of the setting that helps shape this story is the season and weather. Chopin has set the story in springtime which is a time that typically represents new life and rebirth. This mirrors Mrs. Mallard's discovery of her new freedom and herself. As she looks out at the "patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds," Mrs. Mallard begins to recognize her new freedom (Chopin). At first, she does not realize that this is her freedom and she is afraid of it, but soon she begins to rejoice in the new feeling. So just like springtime signals a fresh beginning, so does Mrs. Mallard's recognition of freedom signal a new life.
Another idea of the time was that women were very frail. "Women's frailty was the subject of much printed material. Middle class European and American women were seen as feeble creatures.