The setting of Eugenia's Collier's "Sweet Potato Pie" is a room on the 14th floor of a posh hotel on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Much of the short story reflects on the narrator's memories of his family's poverty.
The setting for part of the story is the Harlem apartment where the narrator's brother Charley lives. It is within this setting that the narrator, Buddy, meets with Charley and his family. The dialogue in this portion of "Sweet Potato Pie" clearly illustrates how Charley feels about his brother Buddy, further underscored by Charley's insistence that Buddy not carry the brown paper bag into the Fifth Avenue hotel. "I suppose we all operate according to the symbols that are meaningful to us," contemplates the narrator, "and to Charley a brown paper bag symbolizes the humble life he thought I had left."