Originally published in 1974, the short story “The School” by Donald Barthelme takes place in a school, most likely in the US (as the author is American).

Physical and time setting

The main physical setting of the school with its classrooms, labs, trees and plant gardens is very symbolical in the short story as it reproduces the world at a smaller scale: with children, adults, animals, plants, etc. The idea of the school as a symbol of the world is further enhanced by the theme of death which seems to haunt the school: “… they began (I think, nobody ever said anything to me directly) to feel that maybe there was something wrong with the school. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the school, particularly...”

Note that elements of the physical setting are mostly just enumerated and rarely described in detail. An exception is the orange tree garden: “So we’ve got thirty kids there, each kid had his or her own little tree to plant, and we’ve got these thirty dead trees. All th...

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