The imagery follows the setting of the book. The events of The Defense take place in Germany and, to a lesser extent, Russia. The bulk of the novel takes places in Berlin, the principle characters being Russian émigrés outside of the new Soviet Union. The earliest sections take place in pre-Soviet Russia, focusing on the Luzhin household and the school of Aleksandr. Later chapters take place in Berlin, focusing on the home of Luzhin's in-laws. While none of the later chapters revisit the now-Soviet Russia, its political influence is strongly felt among the Russian émigrés in Berlin.