Author. The narrative method involves such aspects as: a) who narrates the story and b) the way the
narrator stands in relation to the events and to the other characters. The story may be told by:
the omniscient author (the third person narrator);
the observer author (the third person narrator);
the first person narrator.
In the 3d person narration the author tells the story from the omniscient point of view. He tells the sto-
ry anonymously and interpreting the characters actions, motives end feeling; he reproduces the characters'
thoughts and comments on their actions. His knowledge is unlimited. He is free to go wherever he wishes, to
peer inside the minds, and hearts of his characters at will. He knows all and can tell us as much or as little as
The omniscient point of view is the most flexible and permits the widest scope. The omniscient author
may wander away from the subject of the narration to state his personal view or to make a general statement
- which is known as the author's digression. The omniscient author may reveal his attitude to the characters,
his view point on their actions, etc; or he may assume a detached attitude, telling the readers all about his
characters, concealing his own point, without giving his own analysis of their actions, behavior, etc.
The observant author tells the story in such a way that we are given the impression of witnessing the
events as they happen, we see the actions, and hear the conversations but we don't really enter into the minds
of the characters. The author is not there to explain and we can only infer what the characters feel or what
they are like. The observer author stimulates the reader to form his own impression and make his own judg-
ments. This form of narration is called the objective point of view.
In the limited omniscient point of view the author tells the story in the third person but he tells it from
the view point of one of the characters he looks at the events through his eyes and through his mind, he may
interpret his thoughts and behavior. The chosen character may be a major or a minor character, a protagonist
or an observer.
The 1person narration is a very effective means of revealing the character who narrates. The author
disappears in one of the characters who tells the story. The character may be protagonist, observer, a major
or a minor character. The narrator tells what he thinks and feels and the 1
hand testimony increases the
immediacy und freshness of the impression and the credibility of the story which tends to be more convinc-
ing. The narrator often assumes the informal note, addresses the reader directly and establishes a personal re-
lationship with him (we, you). The reader is treated trustfully as one to whom the narrator confides his per-
sonal thoughts. On account of all that it is the inner world of the character narrator that is generally in the fo-
cus of interest.
It makes a difference if the story is told by a major or a minor character. In the first case the narrator
represents internal analysis of events in the second - outside observation of events. The limitation of this me-
thod is that the reader gets a biased understanding of the events and other characters; he sees them through
the perception of the narrator.
The narrative method conditions the language of the story. The language of the omniscient author is
always literary. When the story is told by the character, the language becomes a means of characterization.
The social standing of the character is marked by the use of either standard or nonstandard lexical units and
syntactical structures. The narrator's language reflects his outlook (limited, naive, objective, primitive), his
pattern of cognition, his psychology. That is why most of the stories told by the main character are deeply
The narrative method may affect presentational sequence of events. The omniscient author will ar-
range the events as they occur in the chorological order. A first person narrator is often disrupted by digres-
sion or haphazard transitions from one topic to another or may have flashbacks to past events. The events are
then presented in psychological order.
General Questions for Analysis and Evaluation Plot 1. Who is the protagonist of the story? What are the conflicts? Are they physical, intellectual,
moral, or emotional? Is the main conflict between sharply differentiated good and evil, or is it more subtle
2. Does the plot have unity? Are all the episodes relevant to the total meaning or effect of the story?
Does each incident grow logically out of the preceding incident and lead naturally to the next? Is the ending
happy, unhappy, or indeterminate? Is it fairly achieved?
3. What use does the story make of chance and coincidence? Are these occurrences used to initiate, to
complicate, or to resolve the story? How improbable are they?
4. How is suspense created in the story? Is the interest confined to "What happens next?" or are larger
concerns involved? Can you find examples of mystery? of dilemma?
5. What use does the story make of surprise? Are the surprises achieved fairly? Do they serve a signif-
icant purpose? Do they divert the reader's attention from weaknesses in the story?
6. To what extent is this a "formula" story?
Characters 7. What means does the author use to reveal characters? Are the characters sufficiently dramatized?
What use is made of character contrasts?
8. Are the characters consistent in their actions? adequately motivated? plausible? Does the author
successfully avoid stock characters?
9. Is each character fully enough developed to justify his role in the story? Are the main characters
round or flat?
10. Is any of the characters a developing character? If so, is his change a large or a small one? Is it a
plausible change for him? Is it sufficiently motivated? Is it given sufficient time?
Theme 11. Does the story have a theme? What is it? Is it implicit or explicit?
12. Does the theme reinforce or oppose popular notions of life? Does it furnish a new insight or re-
fresh or deepen an old one?
Point of View 13. What point of view does the story use? Is it consistent in its use of this point of view? If shifts are
made, are they justified?
14. What advantages has the chosen point of view? Does it furnish any clues as to the purpose of the
15. If the point of view is that of one of the characters, does this character have any limitations that af-
fect his interpretation of events or persons?
16. Does the author use point of view primarily to reveal or conceal? Does he ever unfairly withhold
important information known to the focal character?
Symbol and Irony 17. Does the story make use of symbols? If so, do the symbols carry or merely reinforce the meaning
of the story?
18. Does the story anywhere utilize irony of situation? dramatic irony? verbal irony? What functions
do the ironies serve?
Emotion and Humor 19. Does the story aim directly at an emotional effect, or is emotion merely its natural by-product?
20. Is the emotion sufficiently dramatized? Is the author anywhere guilty of sentimentality?
Fantasy 21. Does the story employ fantasy? If so, what is the initial assumption? Does the story operate logi-
cally from this assumption?
22. Is the fantasy employed for its own sake or to express some human truth? If the latter, what truth?
General 23. Is the primary interest of the story in plot, character, theme, or some other element?
24. What contribution to the story is made by its setting? Is the particular setting essential, or could the
story have happened anywhere?
25. What are the characteristics of the author's style? Are they appropriate to the nature of his story?
26. What light is thrown on the story by its title?
27. Do all elements of the story work together to support a central purpose? Is any part irrelevant or
28. What do you conceive to be the story's central purpose? How fully has it achieved that purpose?
29. Does the story offer chiefly escape or interpretation? How significant is the story's purpose?
30. Does the story gain or lose on a second reading?
Topical Vocabulary When speaking about an author and his work, we may use the following words, word combinations
1. appearance of a new trend; 2. appreciate a work of art at its full value; 3. break ground in an earlier
novel for the subject matter; 4. bring smth forth in living images; 5. craft of writing; craftsmanship; 6. de-
rived from personal experience; 7. distinguished stylist; 8. drawbacks of...; 9. driving aim, force; 10. ensnare
and capture the reader's mind and emotions; 11. excel in one's art; 12. extremely keen and faithful eye for...;
13. faults of taste; 14. foundation of smb's talent lies in...; 15. fundamental characteristics (of a novel, etc);
16. handle the subject-matter magisterially; 17. have an immediate success; 18. innovations in writing; 19.
inspired by...; 20. in the field of fiction; 21. lacking in imagination; 22. lead the reader on quietly; 23. light
humorist; 24. magic of art; 25. novel, etc deals primarily with; 26. one of the foremost novelists (humorists,
etc) of our (his) time; 27. one of the novel's, etc great virtues; 28. popularity and fame came...; 29. popularity
is founded on...: 30. power of observation (ironic insight); 31. the reader is spellbound and enthralled; 32. re-
ceive general recognition; 33. receive a number of distinguished awards; 34. reveal smb's (one's) considera-
ble talent as a writer; 35. sure instinct of a novelist, etc; 36. write fiction; 37. writer makes us see; 38. writer
is successful (unsuccessful).
When we speak of a writer's style we may use the following:
1. artistically effective; 2. as if reported by a detached observer; 3. become the dominant images; 4.
cap a comic moment with a final extravagant act; 5. capture the essential truth of...; 6. complex narrative; 7.
detailed examination of...; 8. digress, digression; 9. go on to particulars; 10. heavy prose; 11. humorous and
sardonic tone; 12. piece of technical virtuosity, 13. becomes a powerful symbol; 14. prose is clear and sim-
ple; 15. prose quickens; 16. remorseless irony; 17. report the speech of...; 18. see smth through the eyes of...;
19. simplicity (complexity) of style; 20 skill in narrative; 21. speak to one's esthetic sense; 22. style may be
clear, direct, illuminated by a perfectly unaffected sincerity, sufficiently pointed to carry...; 23. well under
control; 24. strive to express; 25. understatement that runs through...
When discussing the characters we may make use of the following:
1. contrast between the characters of...; 2. dispose the characters around...; 3. figure of strong outline;
4. major characters; 5. main character; 6. minor (secondary) characters; 7. vigorous, vivid character; 8. write
realistically of human beings.
When characterizing the composition of a work of fiction we may use the following:
1. at the precise centre of the book, novel, story, etc; 2. central theme of...; 3. chaotic composition; 4.
climatic events are packed into...; 5. delay the action; 6. episode is symbolic; 7. dramatic climax; 8. final epi-
sode; 9. flashback in time; 10. form the subject-matter of...; 11. invented scene; 12. last, etc scene shows...;
13. leading theme of...; 14. main thread of the story; 15. make a shift of scene; 16. make the most of atmos-
phere and suggestion; 17. novel, story, etc gains momentum; 18. on the background of...; 19. parallel plot;
20. pattern of movement; 21. plot develops towards a violently dramatic incident; 22. resolution comes
quickly; 23. scene is static; 24. story is narrated by...; 25. story is simple and uncomplicated; 26. structure of
conflict; 27. subject-matter of...; 28. tension springs from...
The plan of the Discussion of the Text 1.Speak about the author and the book from which the extract is taken. 2.Characterize the extract from the point of its structure (form, composition). The text may present:
- a piece of dramatic prose; a piece of narration (an account of events);
- a description (of nature, of some historic event, of surroundings, of a humorous episode);
- a piece of criticism; a satirical portrayal of society;
- a piece of character-drawing (of portraiture, a psychological portrayal of some personages);
- a dialogue;
- a dramatic monologue.
Here often than not the text presents several components. Name all of them. (For example, "Several
forms of presentation interrelate in this text'').
3.State whether the narration is first-person, third-person or anonymous. If it is done in the first person, mention whether the narrator is his own protagonist (the chief character
of the story) or he may focus on another.
If it is done in the third person, the narrator focuses on some other character of whom he may have di-
rect knowledge but acts as an observer.
The narrator may have no direct relation to the person he speaks about, he may not be present at all, he
may be entirely anonymous.
4.Summarize the essence of the extract in a nut-shell (or reveal the plot of the story, passage, etc.) The plot is a sequence of events in which the characters are involved. The theme and the idea revealed.
The theme (or the subject) is the matter of a literary work to be dealt with, the represented aspect of
The idea of a literary work is the underlying thought and emotional attitude transmitted to the reader
by the whole structure of the text.
The plot may be eventless or very rich in events. Events are made of episodes, episodes, in their turn,
of smaller action details.
The account of events may be detached, unemotional or passionate.
The plot may consist of:
-development (gradation, story),
An extract of a literary work (or a story) may have all of the above mentioned elements of the plot or it
may not contain all of them and their sequence in the text may vary.
Speak on the plot of the story (beginning, development, end), say in what order the elements of the
plot follow (exposition, story, climax, denouement).
5.State whether the extract falls into logically completed parts. Entitle them; give a brief summary of each. Find sentences or words which may serve key-sentences, key-words; motivate your choices. 6.In what mood is the text written? It may be dry, matter-of-fact, dramatic, lyrical, pathetic (touching), elated, passionate, unemotional,
serious, mocking, ironical, satirical, cheerful or gloomy, bitter, tense and nervous or light. How is it re-
vealed? What stylistic devices are employed to this end?
7.Speak about central characters. Is their characterization direct, indirect or mixed? Prove it. To what stylistic devices does the author
resort in character drawing? Comment on their choice and purpose.
8.If there is a description of nature say whether it forms a cheerful and bright or gloomy background for the events? Say whether it is in harmony or in contradiction with the personage's state.
9. Speak about your own attitude. TEXT DISCUSSION ACTIVITIES Courses that include literary works as subject matter provide opportunities for you to talk about what you
have read with someone else. By speaking and by listening to others, you can come to a deeper understanding
of a story. Like the processes of reading and writing, the act of conversation itself can generate ideas.
There are numerous activities connected to each story that will enable you to participate in discussions
of the stories with your classmates. For example, sharing what you have written about a story in your reading
log can be one way to introduce your ideas into the class discussions. By sharing ideas, you can become ac-
tively engaged in the process of understanding literature.
To remember the significant ideas that emerge from class discussions, it is a good idea to take notes in
a notebook or in the margins of the stories.
ACTIVITY:Readi ng and respon di ng t o a sh ort st ory _ Apply some of the reading strategies discussed in this chapter to the short story "Girl" (pp. 150-51), or
to another very short story in Part Two, for example, Luisa Valenzuela's ―The Verb to Kill” (pp. 147-49).
You don't necessarily have to follow all of the suggestions listed here.
1. Preview the story by reading the title, the biographical information, and the discussion of the context
of the story.
2. Read the story through once to grasp what is happening, without using a dictionary or the Glossary.
3. Reread and annotate the story.
• Identify any unfamiliar vocabulary words; try to guess the meaning from the context (see the guide-
lines on p. 10).
• Write brief clarifying notes (see the guidelines on p. 11).
4. Write in your reading log to explore your initial reactions to the story (see the guidelines on p. 12).
5. Discuss your reactions with classmates.
The focus in Chapter 1is on analysis and interpretation of fiction. Analysis is the process of breaking
down something into its parts to examine the parts closely. Interpretation is the process of piecing the parts
together to discover a pattern that reveals the story's meanings or significance.
EXAMINING ELEMENTS WITHIN A STORY The parts of a story that we can examine are elements that exist within the story: plot, setting, charac-
ter, point of view, imagery, symbolism, tone, irony, speech, structure, and foreshadowing. Each element pro-
vides clues to meaning and can help us interpret a story.
In this chapter, the elements are divided into categories for easy explanation. Within a story, they are
usually interconnected and sometimes inseparable.
Plot is a series of events and thoughts arranged to reveal their dramatic and emotional significance.
Plot is not just a sequence of chronological events. Rather, plot implies that there is a meaningful relationship
among the events.
Plot is characterized by a conflict: a struggle between two or more opposing forces. The conflict may
be internal(person vs. self) or external (person vs. person; person vs. nature; person vs. society; or person vs.
fate). A story may have more than one conflict.
P LOT SUMMARY To summarize a plot, you need to determine what you believe are the key events or happenings in the
story and to identify the conflict(s). Ask questions such as these: What is happening? What is the main con-
flict? Is the conflict resolved (brought to a conclusion)?
In a plot summary, there are primarily four important features:
1. It should be brief. Try to summarize the plot in a few sentences, or in only one or two sentences.
2. It should be accurate. Use the facts as they are presented in the story.
3. It should contain the most important details. Your goal is to tell what is happening in the story, to
identify what you perceive to be the main conflict.
a. Select what you think are the most significant details.
b. Decide what you are going to include in your summary and what you are going to leave out.
c. Present the details in the order in which they occur in the story or in another logical order.
d. Focus on the facts and do as little interpretation as possible.
4. It should be primarily in your own words. Retell the story using your own words. Of course, some
of the original words of the story must remain, such as the names of people and places. But you can replace
many of the words from the original text. Use one of these strategies, or another strategy that you find pro-
ductive, to find your own words:
• After reading the story, put it aside and retell the story from memory.
• After reading, take notes on the story. Then put the story aside and retell the story from the notes.
ACTIVITY: Evaluating summaries__ Read the following student plot summaries of the story titled "The Story of an Hour" (pp. 6-8).
Answer the following questions about each summary. Allow for differences of opinion in the group.
1. Does the summary briefly tell what is happening in the story? Does it identify the main conflict?
2. Are the details accurate?
3. Are the details presented in the order in which they occur in the story? If not, is the order of pres-
4. Is the summary written primarily in the student's own words?
5. To improve the summary, what suggestions would you have for the writer?
In Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour", the main character, Mrs. Mallard, is informed of her hus-
band's tragic death through her sister and a close friend, Richards. Mrs. Mallard's first reaction is normal for
any loving wife: "She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister's arms" (7). After spending
a short amount of time by herself, Mrs. Mallard's grief turns into a feeling of relief. She is looking forward to
a new life of freedom. Just as she begins to enjoy this feeling of freedom, the door bell rings, It is her suppo-
sedly dead husband who is not even aware that an accident had occurred. Unable to accept reality, she suf-
fers a heart attack which leads to her immediate death.
This is the story of a wife who is informed that her husband died. The story develops as she realizes a
series of thoughts that she hasn't had before. She abandons herself and sees the things the way they were. In-
stead of being sad about her husband's death she feels that now she is going to be happier without him. As
the story continues, she discovers that her husband is not really dead and dies of a heart attack.
R . G .