Study Guide

I Am the Messenger Setting

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The Bad Part of Town

Your mother warned you not to go there, but Ed just can't help it since it's where he's from. That would be the wrong side of the train tracks, the far north of town, or, as Ed calls it. "everyone's dirty little secret" (1.2.25). The novel is set right in Ed's backyard, house, his friends' houses, and all the streets in between, but lest we start to paint a rosy picture of the scenery, Ed tells us right away that his home is a "shack" (1.2.24) and where he grew up was "an absolute dump" (1.2.25). Okay. Duly noted.

This is a place filled with teenage pregnancies and no hope, and yet Ed's brother and sisters manage to make their way up in the world and move away anyway (even if it is because getting knocked up). Ed's home is important for us to understand who he is. This isn't a guy in an exciting city with loads of prospects, waiting for things to happen—nope, he's a guy living in the outskirts of town, where no one wants to go. No wonder his mom is ticked off that he's never left.

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