A Short Story • A short story is a “brief fictional prose narrative. It usually presents a single significant episode or scene involving a limited number of characters. The form encourages economy of setting and concise narration; character is disclosed in action and dramatic encounter but seldom fully developed. A short story may concentrate on the creation of mood rather than the telling of a story.”
There are 7 points of analysis Which You can focus on to help with your analysis.
7 Points of analysis: • Characters • Plot • Conflict • Setting • Mode of Narration • Theme • Ending
Characters • there are very few characters in a short story; therefore, effort is necessary on the part of the author to make characters "real" in such a short narrative space • understanding characters and their motives is important; development of character occurs in the following ways: • the physical description of characters • the description of the environment where characters live • what characters reveal about themselves through actions and words • what the narrator states re: what other characters think about that character • what the narrator tells readers about what the character is thinking
the action in the story centres on the characters: • the protagonist is the main person in the conflict, whether or not this person is a "good" or "bad" character, and is the person on whom the action centres • the antagonist is the adversarial person or force who competes with or opposes the protagonist • characters may be paradigms; that is, they may represent certain accepted notions in society or even stereotypes (a paradigm of innocence or a paradigm of greed) • characters may be allegorical figures; that is, they may represent certain moral qualities or even figures from history
PLOT • Plot is the sequence of events of the story; what the story is about. • arises out of a conflict which is to be resolved, and all of the action in the story points toward the outcome, the "solution" of the conflict • the action of the story moves toward a climax in the plot, or maximum point of interest • each event arises out of the preceding one and leads logically to the next, and the various stages are linked together by causal connection (cause and effect)
plot exhibits the following: • - introduction, which introduces characters and setting • - initial situation, which marks the beginning of the conflict • - rising action, in which the conflict escalates, suspense is created and maintained, and the conclusion is foreshadowed • - climax, in which the action is at its maximum point of interest and the conflict reaches its highest point • - falling action/denouement, where the conflict is seen to be "resolved" and the action winds down (a line graph of a plot of this kind begins on a flat plane, then rises to and peaks at the climax, then falls down to a flat plane
CONFLICT • sometimes conflict is summarized in one of the following three ways: • person vs. person (external conflict) • person vs. self (internal conflict) • person vs. environment/nature/technology/society (external conflict)
CONFLICT • suspense may be created using various devices: • - foreshadowing so that readers want to read on and confirm their suspicions • - mystery in which readers crave an explanation • - dilemma in which a character must choose between two equally undesirable courses of action and readers are compelled to find out which s/he chooses
SETTING • The setting of a work of short fiction consists of the time, place, and circumstances of the story. • Time—In what year does the story take place, what time of year, what time of day? • Place—In what country does the story take place, what city, what kind of location? • Circumstances—Who are the principal characters in the story, what situation are they dealing with, what is happening? • Only when you have a handle on the time, place, and circumstances of a work of short fiction can you then begin to think about the importance of setting.
MODE OF NARRATION • The mode of narration in a work of short fiction is the way in which the story is narrated or told. • First person narration—The work is narrated by a character involved in the events of the story, and the first person pronoun, “I,” is used throughout. • Second person narration—The work is narrated by a character that addresses the other characters (and/or the reader) with the second person pronoun, “you.” • Third person narration—The work is narrated by someone who tells the story of other characters. These characters are referred to using the third person pronouns “he,” “she,” or “they.”
MODE OF NARRATION • Omniscient narration—The narrator is “all-knowing” with respect to the characters and events in the story. He or she understands the characters’ thoughts, feelings, actions, and motivations. • Limited omniscient narration—The narrator’s knowledge of the characters and events of the story is extensive, but he or she is not “all-knowing.” • The narrator may be reliable or unreliable, may or may not be an extension of the author, and may or may not be coherent. Once you are able to come to terms with all of these things for a given work of short fiction, however, you will be able to identify its mode of narration.
THEME • A major theme of a short story is one of its central meanings or dominant ideas. A major theme provides a unifying point around which the plot, characters, setting, point of view, symbols, and other elements of a work are organized. It is important not to mistake the theme for the actual subject of the work; the theme refers to the abstract concept that is made concrete through the images, characterization, and action of the text. There may also be minor themes in a short story, which are ideas which recur intermittently throughout the story.
Identifying Theme • To help identify a theme in a short story, you might want to try the following: • Examine what the main character is feeling. Are the emotions he or she is experiencing representative of a theme? (e.g., coming to terms with the death of a loved one) • Sometimes a theme is expressed through thoughts and conversations. Are there ideas that are addressed in this fashion in the short story? (e.g., debates about the role of religion in society) • Themes can be suggested by following the journey of a character. What lesson(s) does the main character learn in the story? • Actions or events can also be examined for themes. For example, in Lord of the Flies, the shattering of the conch shell suggests how quickly democratic principles are destroyed when threatened by more primitive urges.
ENDING • the "settlement" of the problem • may show readers something about human nature or behaviour; it may also teach readers something or suggest a certain attitude towards or sentiment about life and what life is like • whether a story has a happy or unhappy ending depends on the outcome for the protagonist: a happy ending may suggest triumph, just as an unhappy ending may show defeat • there are many different kinds of endings, nearly as many as there are stories, but besides happy/unhappy, in general, two others stand out: • - a surprise ending is one that departs drastically from readers’ expectations yet satisfies readers in this unexpected way, and it may be happy or unhappy • - an indeterminate ending is one in which there is no definite conclusion arrived at and no ending in terms of resolved conflict
Keep in mind the general Characteristics! • 1,000 – 20,000 words • one general subject • one main plot, no sub-plots • few main characters • covers a short span of time, or several very short spans • setting is a limited space