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.

The initial physical setting of the meat shop creates an atmosphere which is quite disgusting, as Tom sleeps on the meat he sells, flies are all around, and he even spits tobacco on the meat: “Tom bit off a chew of tobacco and made himself comfortable on the meat block. There was a swarm of flies buzzing around the place; those lazy, stinging, fat and greasy flies t...

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