The short story “Loose Change” by Andrea Levy is set in London at the National Portrait Gallery (p. 1, l. 6). Some of the events take place in the public bathroom, others in the gallery and at the coffee shop inside the gallery. The action probably spans over an hour or so.
The physical setting is mostly mentioned rather than described: “I'd just gone into the National Portrait Gallery to get out of the cold.” (p. 1, l. 6)
The narrator makes references to the paintings in the gallery or the table she is sitting at with Laylor: “Alan Bennett with his mysterious little brown bag didn't impress her at all. She preferred the photograph of Beckham. Germaine Greer made her top lip curl… (p. 2, ll. 20-23);
In this short story, the social setting plays a more important role because it is closely connected to the story’s theme, immigration.
The social setting illustrates the condition of the immigrant, British social manners, and British attitudes to immigration.
The narrator’s problems or that of the women she overhears in the coffee shop are minor, also known as first-world problems. They are related to personal comfort and suggest snobbish attitudes: “At the next table the woman was complaining loudly that there was too much froth on her coffee.” (p. 4, ll. 19-20)
The narrator does not want to help Laylor because it would disrupt her life and comfort. She also illustrates what she herself sees as the typical...