Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Lit 1: Guide Questions for Analyzing the Elements of a Short Story

Plot/ Structure
Does the story have an introduction or does it start in medias res?
What are the actions or events of the narrative?
Are the episodes in chronological order? If not, why not?
Are any later incidents foreshadowed early in the story?
Are flashbacks used to fill in past events? If so, why?
What elements create suspense in the plot?
Where is the climax pop up (most intense action or point of highest emotional interest)?
Do events seem realistic or unrealistic (romantic or fantastic)?
Are conflicts resolved at the end of the story?
Is there a surprise ending?

Facts: Name, age, gender, appearance, family situation
Social background: Education, job, language
Does the character develop (change or learn something) in the story?  How? Why?
Aspects of character: Intellectual abilities, attitudes towards life, attitudes towards other people, moral ideas, temperament
How is the character presented? Directly through the narrator? Indirectly through behavior, thoughts or speech?
What is the author's attitude to the character? Are we meant to sympathize with the character or criticize him/ her?

Where: Geographical location, social environment, nature
When: Historical period, the season of the year, the time of the day, time span, flashbacks
Does the setting create a specific atmosphere?
Does the setting reveal anything about the feelings of the characters or the narrator(s)?
Does the place of action remain the same, or is there more than one physical setting?
Is the setting described in detail or hinted at?

Narrator/ Point of View
Is it a first person narrator or a third person narrator?
Is the narrator reliable or unreliable?
Is the narrator omniscient?
Is the narrator´s point of view limited or unlimited?
Does the narrator comment on the action/ the characters, or is he neutral?

Images and Symbols
Are there words in the text that seem to mean more than we usually expect them to mean, i.e. are there any symbols?
What does the symbol represent?
What is the writer trying to make us see or understand?
Does the writer use metaphors or similes? If yes, to what effect?
How would you describe the choice of words and their arrangement (the style) in this work? Does the author call attention to the way he or she uses words, or is the style inconspicuous?
What are the various connotations (shades of meaning, or emotional suggestions) of key words in this work?
If dialect or colloquial speech is used, what is its effect? Is the level of language appropriate for the speaker or characters in the work?
Are there statements or actions in this work that are presented ironically (that is, there is a discrepancy between appearance and reality, or between what is said and what is intended)?
Is the style consistent throughout the work or does it shift to a different style (more formal or less formal, for example)?
Is the style suitable for the subject and theme of the work?  Does it contribute to the meaning of the whole or hinder the reader's understanding?

What is the central idea of the text?
What attitude to life is expressed in the story?
Are there symbols, images, and descriptive details in the text that suggest the theme(s)?
Does the title of the story indicate anything about the theme(s)?

What is the link between the title, the characters, and the cause of events?
Does the title create expectations about the text?
Does the title suggest an interpretation? 


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