This study will examine a number of pieces of fiction in order to show that such writing is a document or chronicle of its time. In other words, the meaning and importance of the examples of fiction in this study are tied closely to the time in which they were written.
For example, Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" is a piece of satire which makes sense only when we know that Swift was writing about a problem which was happening in the early 18th century---the English oppression of the Irish. The problem also included the British view that the poor Irish were having too many children and creating an overpopulation problem. This also meant that the British would have to support those children of the poor Irish.
Swift's satire makes the suggestion that these problems could all be solved if there was a simple change in public policy. He suggested that the children be eaten:
I have been assured by a very knowing American . . . that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout (Swift 410).
Swift's satire was aimed at a particular problem taking place at a particular place and a particular time. It is not meant to actually argue for eating children, but was meant to show the anti-Irish British just how their bigotry would sound if it was taken to its logical extreme.
Two parables from the New Testament are also examples of how fictional stories are documents or chronicles of their time. Jesus, the teller of the parables, was telling them to Jews who saw religion in terms of strict laws. The idea of the parable of the prodigal son was to show how Jesus interpreted the Jewish laws of the time.
The story of the prodigal son is actually about an individual who lives a selfish life and then returns to the spiritual path. Jesus is telling his audience ...