The setting of the short story “Saturday Afternoon” by Erskine Caldwell is a small town in the US, most likely in the 1930s, around the time the short story was published. Knowing that Erskine Caldwell set most of his stories in the Southern US, it is also safe to assume that this short story also takes place in the South.

Time and physical setting

As the title also announces it, the time setting is one Saturday afternoon: “There was hardly anybody in town at this time of day, even though it was Saturday.”

The physical setting is comprised of two main elements — the butcher’s shop owned by Tom and Jim and the creek where Will Maxie is killed.


Social setting

The social setting presents a white men’s society. This society is highly racist and discriminatory, as black Will Maxie is supposed to show them respect and avoid mixing with the whites:

Will was a pretty good Negro too, minding his own business, stepping out of the road when he met a white man, and otherwise behaving himself. But nobody liked Will. He made too much money by taking the grass out of his cotton before it was laid by.


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