Literature Questions


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These are questions my students are required to consider as they read texts. Creative Commons, Share-Alike with attribution

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Literature Questions

  1. 1. Questions for Exploring Literature Beth Ritter-Guth, Instructor ENG285: Contemporary Fiction DeSales University Summer 2007
  2. 2. Romantic versus Realism <ul><li>Is the story Romantic or Realistic? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we know? </li></ul><ul><li>Could this story function as the other; if so, with what changes? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Mode <ul><li>Is the story: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Comic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pathetic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tragic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Satiric </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Elegiac </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Didactic </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Narrator <ul><li>Who is the narrator? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the narrator also a character? </li></ul><ul><li>What role does the narrator play in the development of the plot? </li></ul><ul><li>Do we trust the narrator? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Characters <ul><li>Who are the main characters? </li></ul><ul><li>How are they introduced in the story? </li></ul><ul><li>When are they introduced? </li></ul><ul><li>What do we know about these characters? </li></ul><ul><li>What do we need to know about them? </li></ul><ul><li>Do they fit any archetypal patterns? </li></ul>
  6. 6. Characterization? <ul><li>How are the major characters drawn? What are their major strengths? Weaknesses? Are they active? Passive? </li></ul><ul><li>How to the characters function in relationship to one another? </li></ul><ul><li>How do the minor characters work with the major characters? </li></ul><ul><li>Do we trust the characters? Why or why not? </li></ul>
  7. 7. Background <ul><li>How does the story start? </li></ul><ul><li>What happened before the story started? </li></ul><ul><li>Where does the reader “land” in the story? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we learn this background? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the delivery of this background important to the plot of the story? </li></ul>
  8. 8. Point of View <ul><li>Would the POV change if the narrator were changed? </li></ul><ul><li>Is this story in first person? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you assume the narrator is the voice of the author? Why or why not? </li></ul><ul><li>Would the story be as good (or bad) if the narrator were different? </li></ul>
  9. 9. Action, Speech, Ideas <ul><li>How to characters present their ideas? </li></ul><ul><li>How is speech crafted to provide characterization? </li></ul><ul><li>Which is more important to the character - actions or speech? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the reader “get inside the head of” any character? </li></ul><ul><li>Do the characters change (for better or worse) during the story? </li></ul>
  10. 10. Character and Setting <ul><li>What time period is the story set? </li></ul><ul><li>Do the characters behave according to the standards of time and location? </li></ul><ul><li>What do we need to understand about the time period, customs, language, mores, habits, and traditions of the culture or time period? </li></ul>
  11. 11. Setting <ul><li>How does the author address setting? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the setting described in full or is it implied? </li></ul><ul><li>What role does the setting play in the plot/action of the story. </li></ul><ul><li>How does the setting establish mood? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the setting impact character development? </li></ul>
  12. 12. Plot <ul><li>Is the plot of the story the most meaningful part of the story? If not, what is? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there anything missing in the plot? Is this element missing on purpose? </li></ul><ul><li>Are there any inconsistencies in the plot? Are these intentional? </li></ul><ul><li>How does memory play a role in the development of the plot? Do we trust these memories? </li></ul>
  13. 13. Organization of Plot <ul><li>Is the story organized thematically or chronologically? </li></ul><ul><li>Would the outcome be different if the events happened differently? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the motivations of the major and minor characters? </li></ul>
  14. 14. Emotion <ul><li>Does the setting of the story establish emotion? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the characterization establish emotion? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the POV establish emotion? </li></ul><ul><li>Do the symbols establish emotion? </li></ul>
  15. 15. Reality and Believability <ul><li>Is this story believable or fantastical? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the story need to be believable to achieve the overall effect or impact of the story? </li></ul><ul><li>How does the plot function in believability? </li></ul><ul><li>Are the characters believable? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the setting realistic? Does it need to be realistic? </li></ul>
  16. 16. Theme <ul><li>Is this story didactic? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the point of the story - to inform, persuade, or entertain? </li></ul><ul><li>How does the plot establish the theme? </li></ul><ul><li>How do the characters function in relationship to the theme? </li></ul><ul><li>What value statements are implied by the theme? </li></ul>
  17. 17. Traditional Themes <ul><li>Does this story present a new theme or a twist on a familiar theme? </li></ul><ul><li>What other works exist with a similar theme? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the theme of this work consistent with the genre or time period of the author or work? </li></ul>
  18. 18. Language <ul><li>How is language used in the story? </li></ul><ul><li>How are words chosen? </li></ul><ul><li>How are paragraphs organized? </li></ul><ul><li>How are quotations used? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the author use sensory description? </li></ul><ul><li>Are your senses engaged? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the author assume your familiarity with the senses needed to appreciate the story? </li></ul><ul><li>Are you able to fill in gaps for missing speech, ideas, and actions of characters? </li></ul>
  19. 19. Symbols <ul><li>Are symbols used in the story? </li></ul><ul><li>Do the characters recognize the symbols, or are the symbols used for the benefit of the reader only? </li></ul><ul><li>Do these symbols add meaning? Why, or why not? </li></ul><ul><li>Are there major and minor symbols? </li></ul><ul><li>Are the symbols archetypal? </li></ul>
  20. 20. Twists & Manipulations <ul><li>Is anything twisted through exaggeration? </li></ul><ul><li>Is this done on purpose? </li></ul><ul><li>Is this technique effective? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the consequences of manipulating details? </li></ul>