Time and physical setting
The events in the short story “Examination Day” by Henry Slesar take place in a fictional society, a dystopia where the government regulates its citizens’ intelligence. The setting is probably meant to be read as futuristic, as suggested by references to the “automatic stove” and the “automatic lift”. The “automatic” feature was seen as a technological advancement in 1958, when Slesar wrote the story.
The futuristic, dystopian setting is also suggested by the testing process. For example, Dickie is called through a “concealed loudspeaker” and made to take the test on a computing machine, where an unknown voice instructs him on what to do. Remember that computers were very primitive in 1958.
The first part of the story takes place on Dickie’s birthday, beginning at breakfast time and ending in the evening: “An hour later, seated by the window, he watched the sun force its way between the clouds”.
The events continue on the morning of Dickie’s examination day. We then see Dickie and his father arrive at the Government Educational Building, which the narrator describes: “They crossed the marble floors of the great pillared lobby, passed beneath an archway and entered an automatic ...