Literature and Composition
Valley Southwoods Freshman High School
Congratulations on meeting the requirements for the Literature and
Composition course at Valley Southwoods! You will find the curriculum covered in this class to
be both challenging and stimulating. Since this class is a part of the Accelerated Pathways
program and you will receive credit for both Language and Literature and Fundamentals of
Writing by taking this one year-long course, teachers will move at a rigorous pace.
The first expectation of this course is that you will complete some independent work over the
summer. This includes several readings with related assignments, a journaling assignment,
writing an essay about yourself, and keeping a list of the other books you read this summer
(between 5-10 recommended). All of this work will be due on the first day of school. You will
also find a listing of Literary Terms in this packet. Please study these terms and try to
incorporate some of the language in your journal responses. Your teachers will use these terms
frequently throughout the school year.
(short story by James Hurst—see additional
handout and assignment attached here)
(novel—copies available for checkout or you
may purchase your own; assignment attached)
If you lose this assignment packet, or if you want to use this document as a template for your
own electronic file, you can access it on the school website at www.wdmcs.org/southwoods.
Then, click on the Literature and Composition link to find this document.
The novel and materials will be available at Valley Southwoods at 3:30 on May 5 and May 6.
After those dates, you may pick up the materials from the main office. Please bring your To Kill
a Mockingbird book and the completed assignments with you to school in the Fall.
The Summer Curriculum will be collected on the first day of school. Please note that these
materials and others will be the basis of the curriculum for this course during the first few weeks
of school. Also, be prepared for a To Kill a Mockingbird (TKAM) QUIZ in your Literature and
Composition class during the first week of school. We strongly suggest that you read To Kill a
Mockingbird in the latter part of the summer since we will discuss it and complete related
assignments in September. If you read it too early, you may forget some of the details. If you
check out a book from the school, you will eventually return it in mid-September. Please see the
schedule below for an idea of what we will be covering on the first few days of the school year.
If you have further questions about completing this assignment, please call Mr. Kent
Abrahamson, Principal, at Valley Southwoods. Phone: 633-4500.
We look forward to working with you next year!
Valley Southwoods Literature and Composition teachers,
Mrs. Carroll, Mrs. Hingl, and Mrs. Wicks
Literature and Composition
2009-10 First Days of School
Predicted Schedule (may vary slightly)
Thurs. 8/20 Welcome
Summer Reading and Journal Assignments Due
“All About Me” Essay Due
Book List Due
Other possible TKAM Quiz
activities during Introduction to Socratic Seminar
the 1st weeks of Write 10 Socratic Seminar questions and discuss
school: Review the Writing Process
Review Thesis Statements
Understand “The Six Traits of Writing”
TKAM Essay Assignment
Other TKAM extension activities
A Literary Terms Quiz
Section A: The Scarlet Ibis, a short story by James
The Scarlet Ibis is a very touching story about two brothers growing up in the South during
WWI. The younger brother, Doodle, is handicapped and takes an interest in a rare bird. After
reading the story, please complete the questions and activities here. Some of these activities
focus on the literary concepts of symbolism, tone, and diction. These activities will give you a
sense of the rigor we will use in the Literature and Composition class during the year.
The Scarlet Ibis, Part I
Understanding and Interpreting
After reading the story, answer each of the following questions.
1. What is the setting of The Scarlet Ibis? Distinguish between the geographic setting, the cultural setting,
and historical setting of the story. What clues helped you determine the setting?
2. What was Doodle’s condition when he was born?
3. Explain the statement, “They named his William Armstrong, which was like tying a big tail on a small
kite.” Why was renaming him Doodle “the kindest thing” the narrator ever did for his brother?
4. What motivated the narrator to teach Doodle to walk? Would Doodle have been just as happy not walking?
5. Explain the following statement made by the narrator: “…pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that
bears two vines, life and death.” How can pride be both good and bad?
6. What did Doodle’s “lies” consist of? What do you think this represented for Doodle?
7. How did the scarlet ibis’s death mirror Doodles?
8. This story is told by the narrator as a memory. How do you think the narrator feels about the circumstances
of Doodle’s death as an adult? Why is it symbolic that the narrator has the strongest memories in late
9. Reread the first paragraph of the story. What words foreshadow Doodle’s death? How would you describe
the tone of the story?
The Scarlet Ibis, Part II
Literary Focus: Symbolism
Symbolism is a literary technique in which things like colors, numbers, objects, or names represent something other
than what they actually are. Symbols found in literature usually represent abstract concepts such as “freedom.”
Universal symbols are symbols that nearly everyone in the world can relate to. For example, the no
cell phones sign is recognized universally.
Local symbols, however, is recognized only be certain groups of people. For example, a team mascot dressed in
school colors is immediately recognized by students from that school, but it is not meaningful to
someone from another country.
Complete the following chart to categorize the types of symbols found in The Scarlet Ibis:
Symbol Examples from the Abstract Concept it Universal or Local
Story: Represents: Symbol? Why?
1.) Doodle’s “lies” 1.) Freedom 1.) Local—this dream only
Birds about peacocks had meaning to Doodle and
2.) The scarlet ibis
The Scarlet Ibis, Part III
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“It was in the clove of seasons, summer was dead but autumn had not yet been
born, that the ibis lit in the bleeding tree. The flower garden was stained with rotting
brown magnolia petals, and ironweeds grew rank amid the purple phlox. The five
o’clocks by the chimney still marked time, but the oriole nest in the elm was untenanted
and rocked back and forth like an empty cradle. The last graveyard flowers were
blooming, and their smell drifted across the cotton field and through every room of our
house, speaking softly the names of our dead.”
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“It was in the clove of seasons, summer was dead but autumn had not yet been born, that the ibis lit in the
bleeding tree. The flower garden was stained with rotting brown magnolia petals, and ironweeds grew rank amid
the purple phlox. The five o’clocks by the chimney still marked time, but the oriole nest in the elm was untenanted
and rocked back and forth like an empty cradle. The last graveyard flowers were blooming, and their smell drifted
across the cotton field and through every room of our house, speaking softly the names of our dead.”
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Section B: Understanding the Context of the Novel
--Read the “What Was Jim Crow” article by Dr. David Pilgrim
Background Information: The novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, is a literary
classic that addresses issues of racism, poverty, and intolerance. It offers messages of hope,
acceptance, justice, and courage. The novel is set in the fictitious town of Maycomb, Alabama,
during the time of the Great Depression.
Directions: In order to better understand the social and historical context of the novel, please
read an excerpt from the article on Jim Crow Laws found in the supplemental reading packet.
For further learning on this subject, an excellent website is:
What Was Jim Crow?
Jim Crow was the name of the racial caste system which operated primarily, but not exclusively in southern and
border states, between 1877 and the mid-1960s. Jim Crow was more than a series of rigid anti-Black laws. It was a
way of life. Under Jim Crow, African Americans were relegated to the status of second class citizens. All major
societal institutions reflected and supported the oppression of Blacks.
The Jim Crow system was based on the following beliefs or rationalizations: Whites were superior to Blacks in
all important ways, including but not limited to intelligence, morality, and civilized behavior; treating Blacks as
equals would encourage interracial sexual unions; any activity which suggested social equality encouraged
interracial sexual relations; if necessary, violence must be used to keep Blacks at the bottom of the racial
hierarchy. The following Jim Crow etiquette norms show how inclusive and pervasive these norms were:
a. A Black male could not offer his hand (to shake hands) with a White male because it implied
being socially equal. Obviously, a Black male could not offer his hand or any other part of his
body to a White woman, because he risked being accused of rape.
b. Blacks and Whites were not supposed to eat together. If they did eat together, Whites were to be
served first, and some sort of partition was to be placed between them.
c. Under no circumstance was a Black male to offer to light the cigarette of a White female -- that
gesture implied intimacy.
d. Blacks were not allowed to show public affection toward one another in public, especially kissing,
because it offended Whites.
e. Jim Crow etiquette prescribed that Blacks were introduced to Whites, never Whites to Blacks. For
example: "Mr. Peters (the White person), this is Charlie (the Black person), that I spoke to you
f. Whites did not use courtesy titles of respect when referring to Blacks, for example, Mr., Mrs.,
Miss., Sir, or Ma' Instead, Blacks were called by their first names. Blacks had to use courtesy
titles when referring to Whites, and were not allowed to call them by their first names.
g. If a Black person rode in a car driven by a White person, the Black person sat in the back seat, or
the back of a truck.
h. White motorists had the right-of-way at all intersections.
Stetson Kennedy, the author of Jim Crow Guide, offered these simple rules that Blacks were supposed to
observe in conversing with Whites:
1. Never assert or even intimate that a White person is lying.
2. Never impute dishonorable intentions to a White person.
3. Never suggest that a White person is from an inferior class.
4. Never lay claim to, or overly demonstrate, superior knowledge or intelligence.
5. Never curse a White person.
6. Never laugh derisively at a White person.
7. Never comment upon the appearance of a White female.
Jim Crow states passed statutes severely regulating social interactions between the races. Jim Crow signs were
placed above water fountains, door entrances and exits, and in front of public facilities. There were separate
hospitals for Blacks and Whites, separate prisons, separate public and private schools, separate churches, separate
cemeteries, separate public restrooms, and separate public accommodations. In most instances, the Black facilities
were grossly inferior -- generally, older, less-well-kept. In other cases, there were no Black facilities -- no Colored
public restroom, no public beach, no place to sit or eat.
Jim Crow laws touched every aspect of everyday life. For example, in 1935, Oklahoma prohibited Blacks and
Whites from boating together. Boating implied social equality. In 1905, Georgia established separate parks for
Blacks and Whites. In 1930, Birmingham, Alabama, made it illegal for Blacks and Whites to play checkers or
dominoes together. Here are some of the typical Jim Crow laws, as compiled by the Martin Luther King, Jr.,
National Historic Site Interpretive Staff:
Barbers. No colored barber shall serve as a barber (to) white girls or women (Georgia).
Blind Wards. The board of trustees shall...maintain a separate building...on separate ground for the
admission, care, instruction, and support of all blind persons of the colored or black race (Louisiana).
Burial. The officer in charge shall not bury, or allow to be buried, any colored persons upon ground
set apart or used for the burial of white persons (Georgia).
Buses. All passenger stations in this state operated by any motor transportation company shall have
separate waiting rooms or space and separate ticket windows for the white and colored races
Child Custody. It shall be unlawful for any parent, relative, or other white person in this State, having
the control or custody of any white child, by right of guardianship, natural or acquired, or otherwise, to
dispose of, give or surrender such white child permanently into the custody, control, maintenance, or
support, of a negro (South Carolina).
Education. The schools for white children and the schools for Negro children shall be conducted
Libraries. The state librarian is directed to fit up and maintain a separate place for the use of the
colored people who may come to the library for the purpose of reading books or periodicals (North
Mental Hospitals. The Board of Control shall see that proper and distinct apartments are arranged for
said patients, so that in no case shall Negroes and white persons be together (Georgia).
Nurses. No person or corporation shall require any White female nurse to nurse in wards or rooms in
hospitals, either public or private, in which Negro men are placed (Alabama).
Prisons. The warden shall see that the white convicts shall have separate apartments for both eating
and sleeping from the Negro convicts (Mississippi).
Teaching. Any instructor who shall teach in any school, college or institution where members of the
white and colored race are received and enrolled as pupils for instruction shall be deemed guilty of a
misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be fined... (Oklahoma).
The Jim Crow laws and system of etiquette were undergirded by violence, real and threatened. Blacks who
violated Jim Crow norms, for example, drinking from the White water fountain or trying to vote, risked their homes,
their jobs, even their lives. Whites could physically beat Blacks with impunity. Blacks had little legal recourse
against these assaults because the Jim Crow criminal justice system was all-White: police, prosecutors, judges,
juries, and prison officials. Violence was instrumental for Jim Crow. It was a method of social control. The most
extreme forms of Jim Crow violence were lynchings.
Lynchings were public murders carried out by mobs. Between 1882, when the first reliable data were collected, and
1968, when lynchings had become rare, there were 4,730 known lynchings, including 3,440 Black men and women.
Most of the victims of Lynch-Law were hanged or shot, but some were burned at the stake, beaten with clubs, or
dismembered. In the mid-1800s, Whites constituted the majority of victims (and perpetrators); however, by the
period of Radical Reconstruction, Blacks became the most frequent lynching victims. This is an early indication that
lynching was used as an intimidation tool to keep Blacks, in this case the newly-freedmen, "in their places." The
great majority of lynchings occurred in southern and border states, where the resentment against Blacks ran deepest.
Most Blacks were lynched for demanding civil rights, violating Jim Crow etiquette or laws, or in the aftermath of
Lynchings were most common in small and middle-sized towns where Blacks often were economic competitors to
the local Whites. These Whites resented any economic and political gains made by Blacks. Lynchers were seldomly
arrested, and if arrested, rarely convicted. Raper estimated that "at least one-half of the lynchings are carried out
with police officers participating, and that in nine-tenths of the others the officers either condone or wink at the mob
action." Lynching served many purposes: it was cheap entertainment; it served as a rallying, uniting point for
Whites; it functioned as an ego-massage for low-income, low-status Whites; it was a method of defending White
domination and helped stop the fledgling social equality movement.
Many Blacks resisted the indignities of Jim Crow, and, far too often, they paid for their bravery with their lives.
by Dr. David Pilgrim, Professor of Sociology; Ferris State University; Sept., 2000
Section C: To Kill a Mockingbird
Directions: After reading the What Was Jim Crow? article, please read the novel, To Kill a
Mockingbird. The attached study guide is simply to guide you through the reading process and
help you prepare for the TKAM Quiz that you will take when you start school.
**Attention: Please do not watch the To Kill a Mockingbird movie on your own. We will be
completing a video study and discussion involving the classic movie in class in September.
**Also, it may be better to read To Kill a Mockingbird in mid-to-late
summer (rather than right away this spring), since the novel will be the
focus of the class during the first few weeks. We want you to be
successful on the discussions, quizzes, and assignments; we don’t want
you to forget all of the details.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Literature and Composition
1. What did the children know about the Radley’s family history?
2. Why did Scout get into trouble with her teacher on the first day of school? How does this incident add
to her credibility as a narrator?
3. What is the significance of Scout’s school experience? Read the following quotation before
“First of all,” he said,” If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all
kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of
view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” chapter 3, page 30
4. What did Jem and Scout find in the knot-hole of the oak tree? Who do you think put the objects there?
5. What is Miss Maudie like? What is her theory on why Boo Radley is the way he is?
6. Why was Jem bothered by the cement they found in the knot-hole of the oak? How did you know he
7. How did Miss Maudie handle her house burning down? (chapter 8, page 73)
8. Where did the blanket come from?
9. What reason did Atticus give Scout for the fact that he was defending a black man?
10. How did Scout get into trouble on Christmas at her Aunt Alexandra’s house? How did her uncle
handle things? What does this show you about him?(chapter 9, pages 85-86)
11. Read the following quotations from chapter 9 and answer the questions that follow:
“You just hold your head up high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you,
don’t you let ‘em get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change.” -Atticus Finch, p. 76.
What happened in the story to make Atticus say this?
“Simply because we’re licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to
– Atticus Finch p. 76.
Who is Atticus talking to? Why does he say this?
“This time we aren’t fighting the Yankees, we’re fighting our friends. But remember this, no
matter how bitter things get, they’re still our friends and this is still our home.”
-Atticus Finch, p. 76.
Do you agree? No matter what, are they still their friends? What do these words tell you about Atticus?
“I hope and pray I can get Jem and Scout through it without bitterness, and most of all, without
catching Maycomb’s usual disease. Why reasonable people go stark-raving mad when anything
involving a Negro comes up is something I don’t pretend to understand…” – Atticus Finch, P. 88.
What is “Maycomb’s disease?”
12. According to Atticus, it is a sin to kill a mockingbird. Why? (page 90)
13. Jem and Scout were somewhat disappointed in Atticus because he wasn’t athletic like some fathers.
What happened to change their minds? Why hadn’t Atticus revealed that skill earlier? Consider the
quotations below before answering.
“Marksmanship’s a gift of God, a talent – oh, you have to practice to make it perfect, but shootin’s
different from playing piano and the like. I think maybe he put his gun down when he realized that
God had given him an unfair advantage over most living things. I guess he decided he wouldn’t shoot
until he had to, and he had to today.” –Miss Maudie, p. 98.
“People in their right minds never take pride in their talents.” – Miss Maudie, p. 98.
14. What did Atticus mean when he said the “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a
person’s conscience”? (page 105)
15. Read page 108 again carefully (chapter 11). According to Atticus, what kind of person uses the word
16. What did Jem do to Mrs. Dubose? Why?
17. How was Jem punished? What did he learn about Mrs. Dubose? What did he learn about himself?
18. Read the quotations below from chapter 11 and respond to the questions that follow.
“…but sometimes we have to make the best of things, and the way we conduct ourselves when the
chips are down.” –Atticus Finch, p. 104
What would our conduct, when the chips are down, reveal about each of us?
“…it’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how
poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you.” – Atticus Finch, p. 108.
What happened in the story to bring about this response by Atticus?
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a
gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you
see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” -Atticus Finch, p. 112.
Who demonstrated the courage Atticus describes?
19. Why did Cal take extra care going over the children’s clothes before going to her church? How were
Jem and Scout treated there? Who is Lula? (page 119, chapter 12)
20. Describe the “caste system” in Maycomb. (page 131, chapter 13)
21. Dill had a wild story about why he had run away from home. What was it? What was the real
reason? (pages 142-143, chapter 14)
22. What effect did Scout have on the mob?
23.Why did so many people dislike Dolphus Raymond?
24. How did Atticus establish the fact that Mr. Ewell was left-handed? Why do you suppose that fact is
25. What was Mr. Ewell’s attitude while he was testifying? Considering his background, why did he act
this way? (read page 170)
26. Why is it ironic that Bob testifies (page 175) “I’ve asked this county for fifteen years to clean out that
nest (black neighborhood) down yonder, they’re dangerous to live around ‘sides devaulin’ my property-“?
27. Of what does Mayella accuse Tom? What is her version of what happened? What is her attitude
toward everyone in the courtroom?
28. What was wrong with Tom’s left arm?
29. What was Tom’s version of what happened with Mayella?
30. Why did Mr. Dolphus Raymond pretend to be drunk?
31. Why did Mr. Raymond share his secret with the children? (page 200-201 chapter 20)
32. Before the verdict, Reverend Sykes told Jem not to be confident his father would win. Why didn’t the
Reverend expect Atticus to win?
33. Why was Dill crying?
34. According to Atticus, what is the “evil assumption” people make about black people?(page 204,
35. What was the verdict? How did Jem react?
36. How did Bob Ewell threaten Atticus? Why?
37. What is Atticus’ definition of “trash”? (page 220-221, chapter 23)
38. Aunt Alexandra won’t allow Scout to invite Walter Cunningham to the house because she says he is
trash. Would Atticus consider him trash? Why or why not?
39. At the end of chapter 23, Jem is trying to make sense of the different kinds of “folks” he has observed
in Maycomb. He divided them into four categories. Scout says, “Naw, Jem, I think there’s just one kind
of folks. Folks.” Do you agree with Jem or Scout?
40. Why does Jem think Boo Radley wants to stay inside his house?
41.How did Tom get shot?
42. What is hypocritical about the ladies'attitude toward the natives (Mrunas)?
43. At the tea, what was it that Aunty was silently thanking Miss Maudie for? (page 233,
44. At school, Scout' class talked about Hitler. Why did Miss Gates'lesson about prejudice confuse
Scout? (page 247, chapter 26) Why is this hypocritical?
45. What happened to terrify Scout and Jem on their way home?
46. How did Bob Ewell die?
47. Actually, Mr. Tate made up the story about Ewell falling on his knife to protect someone else.
48. What did Scout mean when she said, “Well, it’d be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?”
(page 276, chapter 30)
49. As Scout looked out from the Radley porch, she regretted that the children never gave Boo anything
in return for his gifts. Actually, they did give Boo something. What?
50. Re-read the last page of the book. Atticus tells Scout most people are nice when
you finally see them. This is a very optimistic ending. Does this surprise you?
After completing the novel:
51. Who changes the most in the story? Describe some of the changes.
52. Who was responsible for Tom Robinson' death?
53. Do you think the author, Harper Lee, hates the South? Why?
54. What does the mockingbird symbolize?
55. What did you learn from this book?
Extension (optional): Conduct some research on the author to discover Harper Lee’s personal
history, other literary works, accolades in the literary world, and so on.
Be prepared to discuss this book in class! You will be assessed on your
understanding of the plot, knowledge of the characters, and literary
element analysis, including setting, irony, mood, and so on.
Section D: Journal
Directions: Consider all of the reading you have completed for this class. Please type your
responses to the following prompts and bring them to class on the first day of school.
Elaborate as much as you feel is necessary to answer the questions. You may want to
access these questions from the link on the district website and just copy and paste them
into a your own document.
(Note: There are no specific length or style requirements for this journal, other than typing it. Most of what
you write here will be your personal reactions to your reading. However, your teachers will ask you to go
back and reflect upon your journal early in the school year, so it’s a good idea to be thoughtful and thorough
in your responses. Please try to incorporate some of the Literary Terms from the attached list in your
1.) What is your personal reaction to the information presented in the What Was Jim Crow?
2.) After reading the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, what are your thoughts about the novel in
general? (You may consider discussing Harper Lee’s writing style, the social issues found in the
novel (poverty, racism, intolerance, etc.), the ideas of justice, family, heroes, and so forth, or
anything else that comes to mind.)
3.) What connections can you make between The Scarlet Ibis and To Kill a Mockingbird?
Section E: Book List
Directions: Please keep a typed list of the books you read during the summer. We
recommend that you read at least 5-10 books, preferably college-bound selections. Just
record the title, author, and number of pages. If you need some ideas for “good reads” or
recommended reading, the following websites may be helpful.
Title Author # of pages___
(Please set up your list with these categories.)
Section F: “All About Me” Intro Essay Assignment
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“All About Me” Essay Rubric
Writing Trait 0-2 pts. 3-4 pts. 5 pts.
IDEAS --Ideas are not clear or --Ideas are generally clear --Ideas are unique, clear,
logical and logical, but may not and logical
--Thesis and topic offer anything very unique --Ideas are presented with
sentences are missing or --Thesis and topic a thesis and topic sentence
do not support focus the sentences are present, but --Ideas are supported by
essay could offer more focus specific details
--Little or not support is --Ideas are supported with --Ideas clarify the message
given for ideas details and focus the overall essay
ORGANIZATION --Essay does not have --Essay is organized with --Essay is organized with
clearly defined an introduction, body an introduction, body
introduction, body paragraphs, and a paragraphs, and a
paragraphs, or conclusion conclusion, but lacks conclusion
--Reader is not drawn into development --Introduction draws the
the body --Introduction may not the reader into the body of
--Body paragraphs are draw in the reader the text
disorganized, jumping --Body paragraphs may be --Paragraphs contain
from topic to topic a bit disorganized information that supports
--Conclusion is weak or --Conclusion does not give the topic sentence and
missing the essay a “finished feel” does not stray from the
--Conclusion give the
essay a “finished feel”
CONVENTIONS --Multiple errors in --Grammar, usage, --Grammar, usage,
grammar, usage, spelling, spelling, and punctuation spelling, and punctuation
and punctuation are not consistently correct are nearly perfect and
--Errors distract the reader --Errors somewhat distract demonstrate a clear
so much that it takes away the reader mastery of conventions of
from the content of the English
SENTENCE FLUENCY --The essay is choppy --The essay is generally --The essay reads in a
rather than smooth smooth smooth manner
--Little or not variety in --Some variety in sentence --Sentence lengths vary
sentence length, lengths and complexity, and are often complex,
complexity, or sentence but at time, choppy or without being too wordy
beginnings wordy --There is variety in the
--Fragments or run-ons are --Little variety in sentence beginnings of sentences
VOICE --No real voice comes --The writer’s voice --The writer’s voice comes
through the writing somewhat comes through through in a strong, clear
--Information or style is --The essay may sound to manner
immature or inappropriate immature or too technical --The essay is personal,
WORD CHOICE --The writer has made --The essay includes some --The essay includes
little attempt to go beyond unique words, but may be words that are unique,
ordinary vocabulary use in used repetitively or out-of- used appropriately in
the letter context context, and distinctly
--Slang is used express what the writer is
trying to say
Section G: Literary Terms
Please study the literary terms that follow and try to incorporate some of the terms into
your journal responses.
The Writer’s Tools
Plot The sequence of events in a short story
Exposition The basic introduction to a story; reader may find out character names,
Inciting Incident The main conflict of the story is introduced
Rising Action All events leading up to the climax
Complications Minor problems that add to the main conflict in the story
Climax The highest point of tension in the story OR the turning point
Falling Action All events after the climax that lead to resolution
Resolution The point in the story when the main conflict has been resolved
Denouement After the resolution, when all “loose ends” are tied up
Foreshadowing Clues given in the story which may indicate the outcome of the plot
Flashback When the sequence of events in a story is interrupted to go to an earlier
period of time
In medias res Literally means “in the middle”; Technique in which the sequence of
events in the plot are out of order—usually the story begins somewhere in
the middle, flashes back to the beginning, catches up to the present and
Example: The Odyssey
Conflict Tension or problems in a story
--internal A personal struggle a character has within their own mind
Example: person v. self
--external Struggles a character must deal with apart from themselves, such as
Examples: person v. nature, person v. society, person v. person
Suspense The tension the reader feels as conflicts and complications grow in a
Direct Characterization A character’s personality traits are directly stated in the story
Indirect Characterization The author gives clues the character’s personality by including
their appearance, thoughts, speech, actions, or opinions of
Flat A character who is one-dimensional
Round A multi-faceted character--you see more than one side of their personality
Static A character who stays the same throughout the entire story
Dynamic A character who changes throughout the story
Protagonist The hero of the story
Antagonist The character in opposition to the hero of the story
Foil A character in contrast with the main character
Epiphany A sudden realization for a character....their epiphany may help them
resolve the conflict
Point of View The perspective from which a story is told; the narrator
First Person The narrator is a character in the story
Third Person Limited The narrator is not a character; tells the story from the outside, looking
in to the mind of ONE character.
Third Person Omniscient The narrator is not a character in the story, but can look into the
minds of several characters. This narrator is “all-knowing.”
Setting The time and place of the story
Mood The atmosphere or feeling of the story
Time Time of day, day of the week, year, or era of the story
Location The building, region, country, etc. of the story
Atmosphere The weather, or psychological feeling of the story
Historical Setting The events that were happening in history when the story is set
or the social context of the story
Theme The central idea or message of a story
**The following may provide CLUES to the theme:
Direct Statements A quote by a character or narrator that directly states the theme
Philosophical Statements A quote by a character or narrator that is not direct, but
philosophical or profound. The reader must interpret their
comment to discover the theme.
Nature of the Conflict The type of conflict itself may indicate the theme
Character Changes As characters change and grow, the theme may become apparent
Symbolism Anything that represents something else: (colors, numbers,
Tone The author’s attitude toward the subject
Irony When the opposite of what you expect happens
Verbal Irony Characters say one thing, but mean another
Situational Irony Everyone is surprised by the outcome of the story, both reader and
Dramatic Irony The reader knows what is going on in the story, but the characters
are surprised by the outcome
Genre Different types of literature
Short Story A short piece of fiction, meant to be read in one sitting
Novel A longer piece of fiction--usually much more developed plot and
Poetry Short writing that incorporates elements of poetry such as rhythm,
rhyme, figurative language, and sound devices
Drama A longer piece of fiction that is meant to be performed by actors
on a stage. Includes dialogue and stage directions.
Nonfiction A piece of writing based upon real-life. Examples: biographies,
news articles, textbooks, essays, etc.
Advanced Literary Techniques
Allusion A reference to mythology, history, or religion in a literary work.
Antithesis Placement or juxtaposition of structurally parallel words or phrases
for the purpose of contrast. Example: sink or swim.
Connotation The implied meaning of a word. Example: “lady”—a refined
Denotation The dictionary definition of a word. Example: “lady”—a female.
Diction Word choice, usually chosen purposefully to convey a certain
effect upon the reader.
Figurative Language Language that is not meant to be interpreted for literal meaning.
--Idiom A figure of speech in which the meaning is different from the
words that are actually written. Example: “It’s raining cats and
--Metaphor A comparison between two things, not using “like” or “as.”
Example: Morning is a new sheet of paper to write upon.
--Simile A comparison between two things that uses “like” or “as.”
Example: “My sister is like a bear when she wakes up from a
--Personification Giving human characteristics to inanimate objects.
Example: Death knocked upon his door.
Hyperbole Deliberate and often extreme exaggeration done for either serious
or comic effect.
Example: “I had a million things to do this morning!”
Imagery Language that appeals to one or more of the five senses.
Example: The dark and murky sky was filled with the smell of
Motivation A set of circumstances that prompts a character to act a certain way
or that determines the outcome of a situation.
Paradox Contradictory ideas that appear together in an effort to reveal some
new way of thinking about something or a hidden truth.
Poetic Devices Poetic techniques used in a piece of writing.
Examples: sound devices such as alliteration, rhythm, rhyme;
figurative language; imagery, etc.
Pun A play on words that are identical or similar in sound, but have
sharply diverse meanings. Example: “Dreamers often lie.”
Sarcasm The use of verbal ironical humor. Example: “You look really
great today!” when the person really looks disheveled.
Structure The framework or organization of a literary work. (Chapters in
a book; acts in a play; paragraph topics in an essay; stanzas in a
Style The writer’s characteristic manner of employing language.
Synecdoche A form of metaphor. Used when a part of something is used to
signify the whole. Example: “I have a new set of wheels,” when
referring to a car.
Syntax The arrangement of words and the order of grammatical elements
in a sentence.
Understatement The opposite of hyperbole. A kind of irony that deliberately
represents something as being much less than it really is.
Example: “I guess I could manage to get by on an income of ten
million dollars a year.”