Elements of Literature Short Story Unit Plot: Definition Plot is a series of related events, each event connected to the next, like links in a chain. Plot (continued): Components Exposition: the basic situation is outlined, characters and main conflict are introduced Rising Action: chain of events that takes place as the character struggles to achieve his or her goal, builds suspense and intensity Climax: the point of highest emotional intensity; sometimes the point at which we learn the outcome of the conflict Resolution (denoument): events following the climax in which remaining issues are resolved Plot (continued): Components Climax: the turning point, the most intense moment—either mentally or in action Rising Action: the series of Falling Action: all of the conflicts and crisis in the story that action which follows the lead to the climax climax Exposition: the start of the story, Resolution: the conclusion, the the situation before the action starts tying together of all of the threads Plot (continued): Determining Climax Climax is often defined as “the most intense moment” in a story. TIP: To find the climax, look for the moment where the central question of the story is answered. Examples – Lord of the Rings Central Question: Will Frodo succeed in destroying the ring? Climax: Frodo throws the ring into the Cracks of Doom – Cinderella Central Question: Will Cinderella end up with Prince Charming? Climax: The shoe fits! Plot (continued): Techniques Flashback occurs when the story’s main action is interrupted in order to tell of events that took place in the past. Foreshadowing is the use of clues to hint at what is going to happen later in a story. Suspense is the feeling of uncertainty or anxiety about what is going to happen next. Plot (continued): Conflict Conflict is the dramatic struggle between two forces in a story. There are four main types of conflict: – Man vs. man – Man vs. society – Man vs. nature – Man vs. self The first three types of conflict are external—the character struggles with a force outside himself. Man vs. self is an internal conflict—the character struggles with something inside himself. Conflict Activity Man vs. Man – Cinderella has to escape her evil stepmother’s attempts to keep her locked away in her room in order to live happily ever after with Prince Charming. – In the book and movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry faces Lord Voldemort in a final battle. – In the T.V. series The Office, Dwight and Andy compete for Angela, the woman they both are interested in. Conflict Activity Man vs. Nature – In the book Hatchet, Brian Robeson, a 13-year-old stranded in the wilderness after a plane crash, must survive on his own in a harsh environment. – In the T.V. show Man vs. Wild, Bear Grylls conquers bridges, cliffs, caves, wildlife, and more. Conflict Activity Man vs. Society – In the Bourne movie series (Bourne Identity, Bourne Supremacy, and Bourne Ultimatum), Jason Bourne works to uncover the truth about a government- sponsored program that brainwashed him in order to turn him into an assassin. – In the book To Kill a Mockingbird (which we will read this fall), lawyer Atticus Finch defends a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman, even though he faces resistance from the rest of his racist town in Alabama. Conflict Activity Man vs. Self – In the T.V. show Biggest Loser, people fight their insecurities, laziness, and bad habits in order to lose weight and improve their quality of life. – In the Star Wars movie series, Luke faces his own temptation to give in to the anger and hatred of the Dark Side. – In the movie The King’s Speech, King George VI of Britain has to overcome his fear of public speaking in order to address his country. SETTING Setting tells us where and when a story takes place. Setting may include – The location of the story – The time of day – The time period (past, present, future) – The weather SETTING The purpose of setting is to – Provide background and make the story seem real and believable – Reveal details about a person’s character – Provide a certain mood, or atmosphere One way that authors create setting is through their diction (word choice). Strong images help develop the setting. (An image is something that appeals to one of our five senses: sight, smell, touch, hearing, taste.) CHARACTER A character is a person in a story, poem, or play. The protagonist is the central character in a story, the one who initiates or drives the action. The antagonist is the opponent who struggles against or blocks the hero, or protagonist. CHARACTER (cont.) Characterization is the process of revealing the personality of a character in a story. There are six main methods of characterization: 1. Speech: The author lets us hear the character speak. 2. Appearance: The author describes how the character looks and dresses. 3. Private thoughts: The author lets us listen to the character’s inner thoughts and feelings. CHARACTER (cont.) 4. Other characters’ feelings: The author reveals what other characters in the story think or say about the character. 5. Actions: The author shows us what the character does—how he or she acts. 6. Direct characterization: The author tells us directly what the character’s personality is like: cruel, kind, sneaky, brave, and so on. CHARACTER (cont.) Characters are classified as flat or round, static or dynamic. A flat character has only one or two traits, and these can be described in a few words. A round character, like a real person, has many different character traits. A static character is one who does not change much in the course of a story. A dynamic character changes as a result of the story’s events. IRONY Irony is a contrast between appearance or expectation and reality. IRONY Verbal irony is a contrast between what someone says and what that person actually means, or what is actually true. EXAMPLE: Zaroff says, “Oh yes . . . I have electricity. We try to be civilized here” . . . but he hunts humans. IRONY Situational irony is a contrast between what is expected to happen and what actually happens. EXAMPLES: – Steve Irwin, crocodile hunter, was killed by a stingray . . . which is normally harmless. IRONY Dramatic irony is a contrast between what a character onstage thinks is true and what the audience knows is true. EXAMPLE: In The Lion King, Simba thinks that he is responsible for his father’s death . . . but we, the audience, know that Scar killed him. POINT OF VIEW Point of view is the perspective from which the writer tells a story. First person point of view: One of the characters in the story tells the story, using first-person pronouns such as “I” and “we.” Third-person limited point of view: An unknown narrator tells the story but zooms in to focus on the thoughts and feelings of only one character. Third-person omniscient point of view: An “all-knowing” narrator tells the story. Instead of focusing on one character, this narrator can reveal the private thoughts and feelings of many characters. POINT OF VIEW An unreliable narrator is a narrator who we, as readers, do not trust to tell us the truth. Potential causes: the narrator’s actions, motivation, tone (attitude), lack of education or experience THEME A theme is the central idea of a story. The theme of a story is NOT the same as the subject. The subject can usually be stated in one or two words (love, war, coming of age). The theme makes some revelation about the subject. A fully-developed theme statement should be a minimum of one sentence. Sample theme statements: – Love is the most important gift of all. – Coming of age is a painful process. THEME Usually, the theme reveals a truth about human behavior – EXAMPLE: As one grows old, death becomes less terrifying. The theme is usually implied rather than explicitly stated. – The reader must infer what the theme is by looking at “clues” the writer gives. Theme usually represents a conflict between what ought to be and what is. The reader should always evaluate the theme of a work—is it true or false? THEME Helpful Hints: Developing Theme Statements 1. Brainstorm a list of subjects that the work deals with; then ask yourself, “What does the work reveal about this subject?” 2. Look for lessons learned by the characters.
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