Where It All Goes Down
1860 to 1930 in Baltimore, Maryland
Fitzgerald’s setting is an interesting one for a story of change and incredible transformation. Though it gets barely a mention in "Benjamin Button," the U.S. Civil War is right smack at the start of Benjamin’s life (from 1861-1865). While Benjamin is transforming, so is the social and political world around him. Baltimore is particularly important to the story for Fitzgerald’s social critique. As he tells us of the Buttons, "they held an enviable position, both social and financial, in ante-bellum Baltimore. They were related to This Family and to That Family, which, as every Southerner knew, entitled them to membership in that enormous peerage which largely populated the confederacy" (1.1.2). Fitzgerald sets the Buttons in a city where social status really matters; and it is there that he able to satirize the general obsession with society, reputation, and image.