In this course, we have two major goals:
1. To identify and analyze the literary
characteristics from a cross-cultural sample
of American short stories and novels:
presentation of setting, conflict,
characterization, dialogue, theme,
figurative language, and symbol.
2. To demonstrate literary judgment by
applying the techniques of analyses,
criticism, and evaluation in critical essays.
In the book, Zenzele: A Letter to my Daughter
Zimbabwean writer N. Nozipo Maire writes,
“What is a life after all but a story- some
truth and some fiction. In the end
there are words- they are the very
manifestations of our immortality.”
Basically, we ALL have a story to tell and even
when we die, our stories will live on through
words (written and oral). Examples include:
Stories our families tell about us
Gossip that is passed in communities
WORDS OUTLIVE US!
People have been telling stories orally since
the beginning of time to teach, to entertain
and even to explain events.
Then people began to draw pictures along with
their stories & they saved these writings to
share with later generations.
Now people all over the world create and
share stories with one another.
Fiction allows us to use our imaginations.
When we read fiction, we are reading stories
that are created (fake characters, imaginary
Sometimes they are based on the truth but
the author may add untrue elements.
We will look at stories across different
We will read about 7 short stories & one
novel by the critically-acclaimed African-
American writer Toni Morrison.
We will try to make connections between the
stories we read- the characters, settings,
etc. and learn from them.
We are going to read for meaning, to
understand the characters and their lives.
Please take lots of notes when you read.
Read each story twice to really get the
We will look critically at each story.
We will examine certain literary elements in
In this class, we will examine these literary
characteristics or parts that make up a story:
Time of day
Time of year
Time and place are where the action occurs
Use as activator to activate prior knowledge. Write
the web on the board or overhead and students
create one at their seats. Then as class share and fill
To create a mood or
To show a reader a
different way of life
To make action seem
To be the source of
conflict or struggle
To symbolize an idea
We left the home place behind,
mile by slow mile, heading for the
mountains, across the prairie where the
wind blew forever.
At first there were four of us with
one horse wagon and its skimpy load.
Pa and I walked, because I was a big boy
of eleven. My two little sisters romped
and trotted until they got tired and had
to be boosted up to the wagon bed.
That was no covered Conestoga,
like Pa’s folks came West in, but just an
old farm wagon, drawn by one weary
horse, creaking and rumbling westward
to the mountains, toward the little
woods town where Pa thought he had an
old uncle who owned a little two-bit
Taken from “The Day the Sun Came Out” by D.
A writer reveals what a character is like and how
the character changes throughout the story.
Two primary methods of characterization:
Direct- writer tells what the character is like
Indirect- writer shows what a character is like by
describing what the character looks like, by telling
what the character says and does, and by what other
characters say about and do in response to the
Physical appearance of character
Does character change?
Plot is what happens and how
it happens in a narrative. A
narrative is any work that tells
a story, such as a short story, a
novel, a drama, or a narrative
Suspense- excitement or tension
Foreshadowing- hint or clue about what will
happen in story
Flashback- interrupts the normal sequence of
events to tell about something that
happened in the past
Surprise Ending- conclusion that reader does
Conflict is a struggle between opposing forces
Every plot must contain some kind of conflict
Stories can have more than one conflict
Conflicts can be external or internal
External conflict- outside force may be person, group,
animal, nature, or a nonhuman obstacle
Internal conflict- takes place in a character’s mind
Man vs. Man
Man vs. Nature Man vs. Society Man vs. HimselfMan vs. Machine
A central message, concern, or
insight into life expressed through
a literary work
Can be expressed by one or two
sentence statement about human
beings or about life
May be stated directly or implied
Interpretation uncovers the theme
“Every man needs to feel
allegiance to his native country,
whether he always appreciates
that country or not.”
From “A Man Without a Country” by Edward Hale
pg. 185 in Prentice Hall Literature book
Figurative Language is language that does
not mean exactly what it says.
For example, you can call someone that is
very angry, “steaming.”
Unless steam was actually coming out of your
ears, you were using figurative language.
Involves imaginative words that use the
The use of one thing to represent another.
For example, a dove is a symbol for peace.
This week you will read the short story, “The
In addition, you will read the first section of
the novel, The Bluest Eye
Write a one-page typed response paper to
what you have read.
Include this information in your response:
Give a short (one paragraph) summary of what
you read for both or one of the selections
How did you like the character(s)?
Where did the story take place?
What did you like or dislike about what you read?
You can earn up to 15 points each week for
your reading response paper.
You will be graded on completeness and the
quality of your thought (not grammar).
Take a moment to proofread your response.
Each response should be double-spaced,
Times New Roman 12 font.
E-mail your instructor your reading response
via an attachment each week by Friday at
Two points are automatically deducted per
day for responses handed in AFTER Friday.
You can earn 15 Points each week for
engaging in dialogue on the Discussion Board.
Give your insights and thoughts, be honest
while being respectful of your classmates.
Do not simply repeat or “copy” what one of
your classmates wrote.
You can post on the discussion forum from
Tuesday evening until Sunday evening each
Enjoy reading “The Tell-Tale Heart” and
“The Bluest Eye”