Brown wrote this story in the early 1990s, a period of great social and political change in the United States. For example, personal computers and everyday use of the Internet were becoming more commonplace. By the early 1990s, the number of deaths from AIDS began increasing at an alarming rate, and calls became louder for more efforts to combat the disease.
In the international arena, in November 1989, thousands of East Germans stormed the Berlin Wall, a symbol of communist control and power for nearly thirty years. This launched a nearly worldwide rejection of communism as a state political philosophy; and throughout the early 1990s, numerous Soviet-controlled countries, such as Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland, began shedding their communist leaders and experimenting with democratic elections and increasingly capitalistic economies.
Concern for the environment grew throughout the 1970s and 1980s, resulting in various pieces of legislation designed to clean up and protect water, air, and land resources. In 1990, U.S. President George Bush signed into law the Clean Air Act of 1990, which amended the Clean Air Act of 1970. Bush’s approval of the legislation marked a radical departure from the environmental policies of his predecessor, Ronald Reagan.
In November 1992, President Bush lost to Bill Clinton, an Arkansas governor previously unknown on the national political scene. To many, the elections of Bush in 1988 and Clinton in 1992 signaled an era during which Americans selected presidents who were simply the least objectionable rather than choosing inspirational leaders. Clinton’s election, though, marked the end of the Republican party’s twelve-year hold on the office of president.
In January 1990, the television series The Simpsons began its hugely popular run. The Simpsons were a fictional suburban family overwhelmed by the world, whose patriarch, Homer, dispensed advice to his children on how to be mediocre. The show so horrified some sectors of society that many schools banned the wearing of Simpsons tee-shirts, especially the one that proclaimed ‘ ‘Underachiever and Proud of It.” Some believed that the show was a clear sign of the dissolution of values in American society, prompting William Bennett, head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the Bush administration, to decry the series.
Thomas E. Barden – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 14, Jason Brown – Published by Gale Cengage Learning.