The Key

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade March 2002

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THE IMPORTANCE OF SETTING IN "THE KEY" In "The Key" by Isaac Bashevis Singer we read about the trivial life of Bessie Popkin. Throughout the story the importance of setting is stressed out as the apartment, the streets of New York City, the supermarket and the church carry an essential role due to the fact it helps out in organizing the story to s certain point as well as influencing Bessie the protagonist of the story.

The story starts out in Bessie's apartment as she "began to prepare to go down the street." Her apartment is the only place where she feels safe even though she has had incidents like misplaced belongings and mysterious phone calls but she puts up to them all and blames her neighbours and strangers for them all. Bessie also cares about the valuable things she has in her apartment such as the "stocks, bonds, and a number of passbooks form saving banks, as well as some mortgages."

Her husband Sam left to her before he passed away. As Bessie has no close relatives or friends she can trust or that can take care of her she takes matters into her own hands and as she leaves her apartment stuffs the keyhole with putty in order to stop anyone form trying to brake in. This once again showing us the importance of how much she values her "safe place." As Bessie gets out on the streets which became "noisier and filthier form day to day" and changed "since Sam died" became a place of chaos and insecurity for an old lady like her. She then enters the supermarket, which according to Bessie "was a place that only the devil could have invented. The lamps burned with a glaring light. People pushing wagons were likely to knock down anyone in their path. The shelves were either too high or too low. The noise was deafening and the contrast between the heat outside and the freezing temperature inside!" All this pointing out how disturbed she was outside. Afterwards as she turned back to her apartment once again passing