The Short Story as Art Purpose and Audience
PURPOSE: Why Short Stories? There are principally THREE reasons for reading/writing short stories: • To entertain The first purpose of a short story is to enjoy it. Authors want you to enjoy a short story (and usually to pay money for it).
Why Short Stories? 1. To entertain 2. To teach Often, the author has a particular point of view on an issue that he/she wants to share. The story is the medium the author uses to convey the message. This is the stage of analysis at which understanding symbol, meaning, and other literary devices is important.
Why Short Stories? 1. To entertain 2. To teach 3. To raise questions Often, a specific “message” from the author is not clear; other times, there is no “message” from the author per se. Rather, the author might be simply trying to get the reader to think about things in a new way, or to question things that the reader might have already made up his/her mind about.
Why Short Stories? 1. To entertain. 2. To teach. 3. To raise questions. It is important to remember that each short story can have two or all three purposes at the same time.
How to Analyze a Short Story In the study of English as a discipline, you must approach texts in a variety of ways. The only way to truly analyze a work of fiction is to return to it more than once, with different purposes in mind. In a tightly-constructed short story, every element – and often every word – is chosen deliberately. When you analyze a short story, it is to see the author’s design. When you can see the author’s work, it raises the level of enjoyment (from an initial “knee-jerk” reaction to an intellectual one).
How to Analyze a Short Story First Reading Second Reading Subsequent Readings Read primarily to enjoy. Take notes on anything that seems unusual, particularly vivid, jarring, or difficult to understand. Bring your analytical skills to bear. Look for literary devices, and think about how they operate in the story.
How to Analyze a Short Story Take notes when you read a short story. Remember: WHEN YOU READ, YOU UNDERSTAND ONCE; WHEN YOU WRITE, YOU UNDERSTAND TWICE.
Elements of a Short Story Plot, Character, Setting, Atmosphere, and Style
The Five Elements of a Short Story • Plot • Character • Setting • Atmosphere • Style
Vocabulary • Plot – the arrangement of incidents or events in a story; “what happens” in the story. • Plot line – a way of visually demonstrating a story’s structure by plotting incidents along a line; plot lines can vary for different forms of fiction
Plot of a Short Story 4 5 6 3 crises 2 1
Plot of a Short Story • Exposition (or Opening Situation) – The reader is informed of the setting and is introduced to the main characters. • Inciting Force (or Complication) – A conflict is usually established between characters. This conflict “gets things started”. • Rising Action – The conflict between characters develops and becomes more pronounced. Involves a series of crises (conflicts).
Plot of a Short Story 4. Climax – The moment of greatest suspense; a point of conflict that will lead to the resolution of the main plot. 5. Falling Action – The result of the outcome of the climactic conflict. Can involve a crisis, but in a short story is usually very short. 6. Denouement (or Resolution, or Final Outcome) – The writer attempts to have the reader leave the story satisfied.
Plot – The Three Little Pigs 4 5 6 3 2 1
Assignment –Analyze “The Three Little Pigs” In your notebook, draw a plot line. Label the plotline with numbers and dots for the crises. Then, using the numbers as a “key” or guide, explain the plot of “The Three Little Pigs”.
Plot of “The Three Little Pigs” • Exposition (or Opening Situation) • The three pigs are introduced. Setting is minimal: “Once upon a time”, with talking/personified pigs. It is time for the pigs to go out into the world and seek their fortunes, so they leave home. • Inciting Force (or Complication) • The big bad wolf discovers the first pig in his house of straw, and wants to eat him. • Rising Action • The wolf visits the house of straw and the house of sticks, blows them down and eats the piggies (these are the crises).
Plot of “The Three Little Pigs” 4. Climax • Failing to blow down the brick house, the wolf tries a different tactic to get into the house. The wolf climbs down the chimney and dies. 5. Falling Action • The surviving pig invites his mother over, and she reinforces the lesson the pig (and reader) learned. 6. Denouement (or Resolution, or Final Outcome) • The pig learns his lesson and lives “happily ever after!”
“The Sniper” • Read “The Sniper”. 2) Answer the following questions: • Where does this story take place? • How do you know? Give two details from the story that show where it takes place. • In what era (time) is this story set? Identify two details that indicate that this is the time of the story. • Re-read the story and pick out the key moments of the story jot the ideas down – creating a rough sketch of the plot line.
A) It takes place in Ireland, during the civil war. Dublin, rooftop near O’Connell • B) The author tells us they are in Dublin; He also gives us landmarks that are in the city – O’Connell Bridge, River Liffey, Four Courts. • C) 1920 – flasks of whiskey, matches, smoking, shawl, field dressing, iodine bottle,
Plot Line • Introduction/Exposition – we meet the sniper; find out on a roof in Dublin, Ireland; during civil war; • Inciting force – sniper lights a cig., other sniper shoots at him. • Rising action – • amoured car – sniper kills • Old lady points in his direction – sniper kills • Sniper gets shot
Climax – Sniper pretends to die, then shoots the other guy • Falling Action – • Throws his own gun – and almost shoots himself • Decided to go see his commander • Shot at by machine gun • Goes to see who he killed • Denouement (or Resolution, or Final Outcome) • Turns over body and finds out it’s his brother.
Plot – “The Sniper” 4 5 6 3 2 1
Plot of “The Sniper” • Exposition (or Opening Situation) • The Republican sniper is introduced. • Setting = Dublin, Ireland, night time, near the River Liffey. Sniper is on a roof. • Inciting Force (or Complication) • Sniper decides to have a smoke – other sniper (Free Stater) takes a shot. • Rising Action • Armoured car appears, old lady points to roof where sniper is trying to hide. • Sniper shoots man in car and old lady. • Sniper gets shot.
Plot of “The Sniper” 4. Climax • The Sniper decides to trick the other shooter and puts hat on cap… ends with Sniper shooting and killing other shooter with revolver. 5. Falling Action • The sniper throws revolver (almost shooting himself!) • Decides to leave roof to look for his company • Feels compelled to see who the other shooter is. • Machine gun shots as he runs 6. Denouement (or Resolution, or Final Outcome) • Turns other shooter over = brother.
What is this story really about? • What is the author trying to say about war in general? • Life isn’t easy • War = no names, no faces • There are no winners! • Author’s thoughts = There are no winners in war!
Vocabulary Noun – a person, place, thing, or idea Adjective – a word that describes or limits a noun Verb – an action word Adverb – a word that describes how a verb is done; usually ends in -ly
Plot and Conflict Our lives are full of conflict. Likewise, the lives of characters are full of conflict. Think of a story as really a look at a conflict and its resolution (for better or worse!). There is no story without conflict.
Plot and Conflict Really, the plot of a story is literally ALL about conflict. The inciting force and the crises (in the rising action phase), as well as the climax are all conflicts of some sort. (Note: There can be minor conflicts in the falling action, but in a short story these are rare.)
Two Main Types of Conflict There are two main types of conflict: • Psychological Conflict • Physical Conflict
Categories of Conflict Conflict can be categorized as: Internal: Person vs. Herself/Himself OR External: Person vs. Person Person vs. Nature Person vs. Society Person vs. the Unknown Person vs. the Supernatural Person vs. Time
“The Most Dangerous Game” Read “The Most Dangerous Game”. Using a plot diagram, outline the plot of the story. Identify five different conflicts in the story, and identify their types and categories. Which conflict is the “main conflict”? How can you tell? How is it resolved?
Characterization • Characters are the “people” of the story. • Characterization is of two main types: • Direct characterization occurs when the author (through narration) explicitly tells the reader what a particular character is like. • Indirect characterization is more subtle. The author gives certain information and lets the reader draw his/her own conclusions regarding the character.
Indirect characterization is achieved using the following methods: • The character’s name. (E.g. Old Man Warner in “The Lottery” warns people.) • The character’s appearance. • What the character says (or thinks). • What the character does. • What others say or think about the character, including other characters or the narrator.
How to analyze Character? • To analyze a character, look at the character’s dialogue, appearance, actions, environment, character type, and motivation. • Also note if there are ironies or discrepancies, i.e. does the character say he believes one thing, but act the opposite way? Do other characters say things about him that you do not see as true?
What is a Character Sketch? • A character sketch is a write-up about a specific character, giving the characters main personality traits and physical attributes. • It should include the following: • Identifying the Character (1 paragraph) • Physical Description (1 paragraph) • Personality & Characteristics (1-2 paragraphs) • Importance of the Character to the Story (1 paragraph)
1. Identify the Character • This paragraph could be the introduction. • Tell who the character is by naming the character and what role he/she plays in the story. • Give the title of the novel/story/play. • Tell whether he/she is a major, secondary, or minor character.
2. Physical Description • Tell what the character looks like. Use evidence from the novel – be specific! • Look for the best quotes you can – note characterization methods!
3. Personality & Characteristics • Explain what the character “is like”. • This could include: • His/her likes and dislikes • His/her good and bad qualities • His/her strong and weak points • His/her attitude and opinions • Basically, any personality characteristic that is shown through characterization.
3. Personality & Characteristics continued.. • IMPORTANT: Whatever statements you make about a character, they MUST be backed up (proven) by evidence from the story! • Give examples, quotations, and references from the story to prove what you say.
4. Importance of the Character to the Story • Explain the importance of this character and his/her role in the story. • Consider how he/she added to the story and speculate on how the story might have been different had he/she acted differently.
Personality Words Aggressive Ambitious Anxious Bitter Boastful Cautious Clumsy Concerned Confident Considerate Courageous Courteous Cowardly Cruel Curious Dependable Disorganized Easy-going Eccentric Excitable Faithful Friendly Generous Gentle Gloomy Greedy
Personality Words Grouchy Gullible Helpful Honest Humble Hypocritical Ignorant Ill-tempered Imaginative Impatient Independent Ingenious Insecure Insistent Intelligent Inventive Irrepressible Jealous Lazy Lonely Loving Loyal Miserly Moody Nervous Obnoxious Optimistic Outgoing Outrageous Pessimistic Polite Proud