Questions to AnalyzeShort Stories


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This is a handout given to students in English 106 at LCCC.

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Questions to AnalyzeShort Stories

  1. 1. Questions for Exploring Short Stories Beth Ritter-Guth, Instructor ENG106: LCCC Spring 2008
  2. 2. 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>
  3. 3. 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>
  4. 4. 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>
  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. 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>
  7. 7. 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>
  8. 8. 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>
  9. 9. 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>
  10. 10. 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>
  11. 11. 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>
  12. 12. 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>
  13. 13. 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>
  14. 14. 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>
  15. 15. Critical Theory <ul><li>How would a Feminist react to this story? </li></ul><ul><li>How would a New Critic react to this story? </li></ul><ul><li>How would a Deconstructionist react to this story? </li></ul><ul><li>How would a Psychoanalytic critic react to this story? </li></ul><ul><li>How would an Ecocritic react to the story? </li></ul>