Short Story

Readings & Elements
 Edgar Allan Poe, in his essay "The Philosophy of Composition,"
wrote that a short story should be read in one sitting, anywhere from
a half hour to two hours.
 Experimentation with literary devices
 Unity:
One plot
One main character (with a few additional minor characters)
One central theme
One setting/time
 Character: dominant traits (flat, not round characters)
 Plot: dialogue, opening sets tone, twist ending (complete reversal of all
that’s been) or soft ending (implication that story continues close)
 Setting: nature takes on significance
 Point of View
 Literary Devices:
• Symbolism
• Figurative language
Author: Kate Chopin
Plot: Girl secures wealthy husband while attempting to string along
another man.
SS Element to consider: Character
 Names have meanings!
 Dominant Traits: Natty, Braintain, Harvy
Author: Dorothy Johnson
Plot: A young woman meets a family and tags along until a crisis of food and
lodging causes her to rise above her circumstances and find some happiness.
SS Element to consider: Setting
 Setting (Nature takes on significance)
Atmosphere or Tone
Influence over plot
How does setting operate as a character itself ?
 Character (Dominant Traits, Motivation)
 Plot Development (Opening, Closing)
Author: Ann Packer
Plot: Brainy girl tries to transform herself into a pom-pom girl and fails.
SS Element to consider: Point of View
 Point of View – the power of perspective! What is known, perceived,
 Character (Dominant Traits, Motivation)
 Plot Development (Opening, Close)
Author: Jade Snow Wong (autobiography written in 3rd person)
Plot: Immigrant daughter attends school and gains some wisdom and freedom.
SS Element to consider: Conflict
 Chinese Culture vs. American Culture;
 Student vs. Educator;
 Daughter/Child vs. Parents;
 Desires vs. Duty;
 Individual vs. Family
Author: Marta Salinas
Plot: Tex-Mex girl must rise above discrimination.
SS Element to consider: Plot Development
 Exposition: setting/characters (Marta/Martha; farm; Tex-Mex conflict)
 Rising Action: initial conflict (overhearing teachers  Grandpa’s refusal)
 Climax: meeting with principal (facing prejudice)
 Falling Action/Resolution: runs home to Grandpa with news
Author: Annette Sandford (major themes: “friendship, marriage, family”)
Plot: Young woman leaves behind mother (& son) to embark on a new
life, only to realize (a) that her mother was right! or (b) stability and
familial ties matter most.
SS Element to consider: Figurative Language
 Sandford on language: “I am much concerned with rhythm in my
prose, with character and with letting the story reveal itself to me…”
 Metaphor; Simile; Allusion – influence over plot/characters?
 For this essay, you are to identify a short story element at work within one of
the short stories we have read so far: “The Kiss,” “Too Soon a Woman,” “Horse,”
“A Measure of Freedom,” “The Scholarship Jacket” or “Trip in a Summer Dress.”
 Next, you are to write a 1 ½ -- 2 pgd. paper, using the following format:
• 1-2 sentence topic (identify title of work and author; identify element under
discussion and its effect on the story)
• 6-8 sentence body (identify 2-4 main ideas that use direct quotes from the
story as proof for each idea; be sure to explain each quote!)
• 1-2 sentence conclusion (recap main ideas and topic of paper)
 DUE: September 12, 2014
Author: Joyce Carol Oates
Plot: Young girl thinks she’s too cool for her family only to realize that the world is a much
scarier place full of lies and pretense.
Literary Theme: Coming-of-Age (bildungsroman: character grows psychologically and/or morally)
 Character: Dominant Traits, Motivation
 Setting: American Pop Culture in the 60s (compare to different times/places)
 Plot Development: Exposition vs. Resolution (Connie at opening and close); Climax
 Point of View: Connie’s? Arnold Friend’s? Parents?
 Conflict: Parents vs. Connie; Arnold vs. Connie; Innocence vs. Ignorance
 Figurative Language: Metaphors, Similes, Allusions?
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Plot: Young woman misses native Indian home and fails to assimilate.
SS Element to consider: Character, Setting, Point of View, Conflict
Thematic Elements: loneliness, broken communication, identity, coming-of-age
 Character: Mrs. Sen (ethnic identity), Eliot (latchkey kid)
 Setting: New England; college town; inside Mrs. Sen’s home
 Point of View: What does Eliot see/understand that his mother or Mr. Sen doesn’t?
 Conflict: America vs. India; Mrs. Sen vs. Eliot’s mother; Mrs. Sen vs. Mr. Sen
 For this essay, you are to choose either two characters from the different short stories
we have discussed in class and compare or contrast their coming-of-age or delineate the
coming-of-age of one character from “Mrs. Sen’s” or “WAYGWHYB?”
 Next, you are to write a 1 ½ -- 2 pgd. paper, using the following format:
1-2 sentence topic (identify titles and authors; identify characters and how they connect to
one another)
6-8 sentence body (identify 3 similarities or differences between the characters you have
chosen to compare or identify 3 key moments of growth; use direct quotes from each story
as proof for each idea; be sure to explain each quote!)
1-2 sentence conclusion (recap main ideas and topic of paper)
 DUE: September 18, 2014

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