Part Two: Examining Story Elements
Setting and Mood
- Describe the setting. The country or locale? Weather? Sights? Sounds? Rural or urban?
- Does the setting change in the course of the story? If it does, what might be the significance of this change in setting?
- Are the characters in conflict with their setting? What do the characters want? Does the setting hinder them in achieving this?Help them?
- What does the setting reveal about the characters? Fear?Pleasure?Frustration? Challenge? Dislike? Respect? Other?
- How would you describe the mood or atmosphere created by the setting? Gloomy? Cheerful? Mysterious? Threatening? Peaceful? Other? If the setting changes, does the mood change?Why? Or why not?
- Write sentences telling what you believe the setting and mood contribute to the work as a whole.
- Cite an example of Person vs. Person conflict. Name the characters. Quote the exact words; indicate the line(s); explain what is happening.
- Cite an example of Person vs. Nature. Name the characters and natural element. Quote the exact words; indicate the line(s); explain what is happening.
- Cite an example of Person vs Society. Name the character involved. Quote the exact words; indicate the line(s); explain how that character conflict with the state/government, institutions, groups, formal religions, laws, rules, conventions, or codes.
- Cite an example of Person vs Himself. What are the character’s desires/wants and how do they conflict with the character’s responsibilities/commitments/ oaths? What is the significance of this conflict? Quote the exact words; indicate the line(s).+
Point of View
- Who is the narrator?/Speaker
- From which point of view is the story told? First person? Third person Limited? Third person Omniscient?
- What does the narrator or speaker know that no one else could know?
- What does this persona NOT know?
- What are this voice’s biases, if any?
- How does the point of view affect the ways you feel about the characters? Does it make you sympathize more with one character than another?
- Choose a different point of view/perspective from which the work could be told.How would the work change if this point view were used?
- Does the title suggest something about the whole work? Does it point to the truth the work points out about life or the human condition? (Not all titles do.)
- Are any important statements about human life made in the work –either by the narrator r characters in the work?
- Is the theme directly stated?If so, where is it stated?(This is rare; but it does happen.)
- In one sentence state the work’s major theme.How do you respond to the theme?Do you think that the author is presenting a general truth about life? (Remember great literature is great because the ideas about the human condition it fosters are universal in nature.)
- Write separate sentences for what you believe are one or more additional themes9s) in the work.How are they “universal”?
- Remember: A there must be written as a sentence that states what the author is trying to suggest about a topic area. E.G., Theme Topic : Love— Theme statement:In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare suggests that true live can overcome all odds.
Characterization: Cite the text.
- Show how the character is revealed through his own speech.
- Describe how the character looks and dresses.
- What are the character’s private thoughts?
- What do other characters say/think about the character?
- What are the character’s actions?
- How does the author describe the character directly?
- Does the main character change in the course of the work?Does the main character realize something he/she had not known before?
- Is the vocabulary simple, or does the writer use many difficult, unfamiliar words?Is the diction formal or informal?
- Does the selection contain colloquialisms, slang, or jargon? (colloquial—common, everyday speech; slang—informal and substandard vocabulary; jargon—words and phrases characteristic of particular professions or pursuits)
- Are the majority of the words concrete (referring to things that can be perceived by the senses), or are they abstract?
- Does the writer use specific words or more general words
- Does the writer favor words with particularconnotations? (Do these words arouse in the reader positive or negative responses to the subject? )
- Are the sentences long or short? Do they have a simple, compound, complex, or compound-complex structure? Do the sentences follow the normal order of English, or is the syntax inverted in some way?
- Does the writer favor the active or passive voice?
- Does the writer use such stylistic devices as repetition or parallelism?Where are these devices used?What effect do they have?
- What other devices or figures does the writer use? (simile, metaphor, extended analogy)