Setting and narrator

Here, you can read useful information regardig the setting and narrator of the short story “The Waste Land” by Alan Paton.


Published in 1961, “The Waste Land” by Alan Paton is most likely set in South Africa, where the author lived, and in a time contemporary to its publication. This is indicated by the reference to a local “idiom” (p. 85, l. 19) which probably refers to an African dialect.

Physical setting

The main physical setting is the waste land next to a bus station and a convent, which also gives the title of the short story: “…behind him was the high wall of the convent, and the barred door that would not open before a man was dead. On the other side of the road was the waste land, full of wire and iron and the bodies of old cars.” (p. 84, ll. 17- 20)


Social setting

For now, you should note that the physical setting becomes symbolic for the overall social setting the author is trying to pinpoint.


Also, here we discuss the historical time of the story.


“The Waste Land” by Alan Paton is a third-person narrative with a storyteller who confines himself to the point of view of one of the characters, the older man. As a result, everything narrated is only what the characters knows, hears, sees and feels.


The text shown above is just an extract. Only members can read the full content.

Get access to the full Study Guide.

As a member of, you get access to all of the content.

Sign up now

Already a member? Log in