Time setting

Nick Werber’s short story “Braces” was published in 2016. Several details in the story suggest that the events might take place in the mid-1990s. This is suggested, for example, by the fact that Nick listens to modern music – rap - on tape. This implies that the events take place before the late 1990s when CD players became popular. 

The events take place in March, over the course of one day. In the evening, Nick and his father drive home.

Physical setting

The events take place in Bognor, a seaside resort in West Sussex on the south coast of England. Its full name is Bognor Regis. The second part of the story takes place on the road from Bognor to London, as the narrator suggests he and his father live in London: “Dad likes our drives down here from London.”.

The short story begins Nick’s grandfather’s surgery office, which has a tiltable chair and an anatomical skeleton model. These objects and the fact that the grandfather checks his grandson’s teeth indicate that the room serves as a dentist’s surgery.

The surgery is located in the grandfather’s house: “Outside the surgery is Grandpa’s living room.”. In the living room, there is a couch, a TV set, a mirror, and large cabinets “that run the length of one wall.”. In the cabinets, there are silver plates, boxes, and candlesticks. Nick’s favourite object is a silver statue of a boxer with an engraved plaque.

The narrator mentions the kitchen and the hallway. The three characters have lunch in dining room, where there is a long table; on the walls, there are old paintings.

Nick also describes the scenery as he sees it from the living room: “My eyes drift through the net curtains to the perfect green lawn that climbs upward toward Bognor beach, the sea beyond obscured by a vast rectangular hedge.”. The net curtains and the large hedge suggest that the grandfather likes his privacy and that he is not interested in seeing a view of the sea. This helps to indicate the grandfather’s lack of imagination and adds to the feeling of being trapped in the story.

After lunch, Nick goes outside – it is a cloudy and win...

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