Study Guide

Crash Setting

By Jerry Spinelli

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Pennsylvania (a.k.a. the Poop State)

When Penn Webb introduces himself to Crash, he says he's from North Dakota, the Flickertail State. He wonders what Pennsylvania is called, and Crash tells him it's "the Poop State" (1.18).

Fun fact: Pennsylvania, where our story unfolds, is actually known as the Keystone State. (Surprise, surprise, Crash was just being a jerk.) We thought it was pretty funny, though, so we're making it official: the setting for Crash is the Poop State. But if your teacher asks, you should probably say Pennsylvania.

Anytown, PA?

Well, not just any town.

Zooming in on the neighborhood where Crash and Penn live, we know that the Webb family's small house and lack of material things make them stand out. Crash's harsh judgments about their lack of a TV and their old car didn't just come to him out of nowhere; those are values he learned from the people around him.

So, we can guess this is a fairly affluent town. And since we don't get a city feel from the descriptions of the area (Crash's backyard is pretty huge), we can also guess that it's in a suburban area. But where exactly?

Put on your deerstalker, and work with us here.

Thanks to the Webbs' plan to visit nearby Amish country, we can deduce that the town in question is likely in or near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Take that, Sherlock!

What About the When?

Our powers of deduction can also help us place the time when Crash is set, despite its total lack of dates. Crash tells us that he received several VHS cassettes for Christmas. Since VCRs became obsolete soon after the book was published in 1996, we can safely assume that the story was set around then, or maybe even a little bit before.

The fact that no actual dates are given and that there are no historical events to anchor the story in a particular time frame—except, of course, those VHS tapes and the Dan Marino football—lets us imagine it could take place pretty much any the1990s, today, maybe even 10 years from now.

This sense of timelessness keeps us focused on the real issues in the story, things like childhood relationships, human nature, family dynamics, and Flickertails.

Crash Setting Study Group

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