Study Guide

Here We Are Setting

By Dorothy Parker

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A Compartment on a Pullman Train Headed to New York, Circa 1931

Back in the day, people used to ride trains. We mean, they still do—subways, and commuter rails, and Amtrak.

But it was different back in olden times. Trains were romantic. They were both public and private. You could meet a stranger on a train and make a murder pact, or you could solve a murder on a snow bound train. But you could also talk about sex in veiled terms—which is exactly what the couple in this story is doing.

These nominees for Most Awkward Couple of The Year are in a Pullman train compartment (probably around 1931, when the story was published), which is a pretty snazzy place to be. Pullman was the gold standard: it set the glamorous standard for other train compartments. These trains offered luxury and privacy all the while hurtling towards a destination. Two destinations, in the case of this short story: the train is speeding towards New York City, and these crazy newlyweds are speeding towards sexy, sexy adulthood.

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