By Johnny Anderson,2014-06-14 21:27
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    The short story (fiction)

    Origin and history

    Devices and elements

    Part One: Origin

     Folktales, ballads, fables, myths and legends of all nations and all cultures

     Oral tradition

     Printed in the 15th cent.

     as a literary genre all its own ,in the early decades of the 19th cent.

     the short fiction (simple, straightforward narratives in prose or verse) and short

    story (consciously organized, highly unified piece of literary craftsmanship) Part Two: Elements of fiction

    I. elements:




     Point of view






    II The virtue of the elements

     Working tools of authors, critics and intelligent readers.

     The common ground for discussing, describing, studying, and ultimately

    appreciating a literary work

     For the readers to organize their responses to a work and to share them with


    III. Plot

     Definition: the deliberately arranged sequence of interrelated events that

    makes up its basic narrative structure.

    Beginning, middle and end

    Five distinct sections or stages:

     Exposition: background information, the scene, the situation, action, the

    character and the conflict.: Face to Face with Hurricane Camille

     Complication: the rising action that develops and intensifies the conflict

     Crisis: the climax where the plot reaches its point of greatest emotional


    intensity; the turning point of the plot which precipitating its resolution.

     Falling action: once the crisis being reached, the tension subsides and the plot moves toward the conclusion

     Resolution: the final section of the plot; it is also referred to as the

    conclusion or the denouement (unknotting or untying)

     Exceptions: Epiphany: the crisis in the form of a sudden illumination: Everyday Use by Alice Walker; Araby by James Joyce, the falling action and the

    resolution are dispensed with almost entirely.

     Exposition and complication can also be omitted in favor of a plot that begins in medias re (in the midst of things)

    The tendency of modern fiction

     Plotless: the author s emphasis is shifted to characters or ideas

     The plot consists of a slice of life. e.g. Hills Like White Elephants by

    Earnest Hemingway; Kew Gardens by Virginia Woolf

     The author eliminates the traditional beginning, but also the ending in order to

    focus our attention on a more limited moment of time; limited description and

    almost no action; conflict and complication are only revealed, the situation and

    the story are to be understood and completed through the active participation

    of the reader.

     Chronological plotting: ordering the episodes or events in the order of their

    occurrence in time

     Flashback: device that interrupts the flow of a chronologically ordered plot

     A Rose for Emily: the shift of the chronology backward and forward in time to

    establish an atmosphere of unreality, build mystery and suspense. Evaluating plot

     Effectiveness: the unity: how does each episode related logically ? Plausibility: are the events and their resolution guilty of violating our sense of

    the probable or plausible? (Chance and coincidence)

     Chance: events that occur without apparent cause or sufficient preparation) Coincidence: the accidental occurrence of two events that have a certain


    Analyzing plot

    1. What is the conflict or conflicts on which the plot turns? Is it external, internal,

    or some combination of the two?

    2. What are the chief episodes or incidents that make up the plot? 3. Is it development strictly chorological, or is the chronology rearranged in

    some way?

    4. Compare the plots beginning and end. What essential changes have taken


    5. Describe the plot in terms of its exposition, complication, crisis, falling

    action, and resolution.

    6. Is the plot unified? Do the individual episodes logically related to one



    7. Is the ending appropriate to and consistent with the rest of the plot 8. Is the plot plausible? What role, if any, do chance and coincidence play?

    IV. Conflict: (oppositions) the catalyst to generate a sequence of events ; The basic opposition or tension that sets the plot of a short story in motion; it

    engages the reader, builds the suspense or the mystery of the work, and

    arouses expectation for the events that are to follow

    ; External conflict :oppositions between the protagonist (Or hero or the focal

    character) and some object or force outside him

    ; Man and nature: The Old Man and the Sea; Man and society: Daisy Miller;

    man and man: (protagonist and antagonist): detective stories. ; Internal conflict: (the issue to be resolved within the protagonist himself)

    Focusing on two or more elements within the protagonists own character:

    Joseph Conrads Heart of Darknes

    V. Point of View

     Narrative voice, a storyteller

     The method of narration that determines the position, or angle of vision, from

    which the story is told.

     Importance: shaping the way in which everything is presented and perceived The change of the point of view means te change of the story

    4 basic types

     Omniscient point of view:

     limited omniscient (third-person)

     first-person point of view

     Dramatic point of view:

    Omniscient point of view

     An all-knowing narrator, not a character in the story and is not involved in

    the plot

     Retaining full control over the narrative;

     Enjoys the freedom and flexibility to dramatize or summarizes, to interpret,

    speculate, philosophize, moralize, or judge

     Identification with the authors voice, revealing the authors values and


    Limited omniscient point of view

     A single focal character acting as the center of revelation ( Henry James) The reader can either have direct access to this focal characters own voice

    and thoughts, insofar as these are reproduced through dialogue or presented

    dramatically through monologue or stream of consciousness.


     The narrators voice is somewhere on the sidelines, the reader become more

    directly involved in the task of interpretation

     A minor character who functions in the role of an on-looker, watching,


     Henry James refers to the narrator as the reflector, or mirroring

    consciousness. through whose conscious mind, the story is filtered and

    reflected: Young Goodman Brown: Evil is the nature of mankind. Things

    appear to be-rather than the way that things actually are.

    First-person point of view

     Limited information

     Subjective, always subject to hidden bias and prejudices The sense of immediacy, credibility, and psychological realism,


     Involved into events of the plot: Sammys growth and maturation, John

    Updikes A&P

     In retrospective views: James Joyces Araby: looking backward at his own

    adolescent romanticism

     Telling some one elses story : Bartelby the Scrivener

    Dramatic point of view

     Objective, impersonal

     the disappearance of the narrator.

     The story is allowed to present itself dramatically through action and dialogue Telling is replaced by showing

     The reader is a direct and immediate witness to an unfolding drama without a

    narrator to serve as a guide or mentor

     Appeals to many modern and contemporary writers

     Descriptive details at the beginning og the work

     The readers responsibility for analysis and interpretation

     Hemingways short story: the psychological and emotional detachment and

    self-control to cope with the reality of experience

    Analyzing Point of View

    1. What is the point of view: who talks to the reader? Is the point of view

    consistent throughout the work or does it shift in some way? 2. Where does the narrator stand in relation to the work? Where does the reader


    3. To what source of information does the point of view give the reader access?

    What does it serve to conceal

    4. If the work is told from the point of view of one of the characters, is the

    narrator reliable? Does his or her personality, character, or intellect affect an

    ability to interpret the events or the other characters correctly? 5. Given the authors purposes, is the chosen point of view an appropriate and


    effective one?

    6. How would the work be different if told from another point of view VI Setting:


    1. Encompasses both the physical locale that frames the action and time of day or

    year, the climatic conditions, and the historical period during which the action

    takes place.

    To provide verisimilitude;

    To create an atmosphere;

    To add credibility and an air of authenticity to the characters;

    To create and sustain the illusion of life;

    To help the reader to visualize the action of the work.

    2. function:

    As a background for action (in traditional story, such a setting has a tangential and slight relationship to action or characters; in modern fictions, setting is so slight that it can be dispensed with in a single sentence or must be inferred altogether from dialogue and action.)

     as antagonist: the Yukon wilderness in To Build a Fire by Jack London

     As a means of creating appropriate atmosphere: Edgar Allan Poe

     As a means of revealing character: The Fall of the House of Usher: both

    Roderick and his house are in an advanced state of internal disintegration.

     As a means of reinforcing theme: “The Blue Hotel” by Stephen Crane. The

    Palace Hotel standing, alone on the prairie, with its light blue color, is pictured

    as “always screaming and howling in a way that made the dazzling winter

    landscape of Nebraska seem only a grey swampish hush.

     Theme: an individuals survival depends on a capacity for self-assertion just

    as the blue hotel that asserts its lonely presence against the stark, inhospitable

    Nebraska landscape.

    3. Analyzing setting

    ; What is the works setting in space and time?

    ; How does the author go about establishing setting? Does the author

    want the reader to see or to feel the setting; or does the author want the

    reader to both see and feel it? What details of setting does the author

    isolate and describe?

    ; Is the setting important? If so, what is its function? Is it used to reveal,

    reinforce, or influence character, plot, or theme?

    ; Is the setting an appropriate one?

VII. Symbol and Allegory

     Symbol: something that stands for or suggests something else by reason of

    relationship, association, convention, or accidental resemblancea visible


    sign of something invisible.

     E.g. Home: warmth, security and personal association of family, friends, and


     Chinese flag: country, patriotism

    Literary symbol

     A metaphor one half of which remains unstated an indefinite William

    York Tyndall

     Literary symbols calls to mind a range of invisible and abstract associations,

    both intellectual and emotional, that transcend the literal and concrete and

    extend their meaning

    Tips on the identification and understanding of literary symbols Awareness and intelligence

     Emphasis placed on certain elements within the work

     Avoidance of the temptation of indiscriminate symbol hunting

     Not imposing our own personal and idiosyncratic meaning

     Limitation by the total context of the work

    Types of symbols

     Traditional: the common property of a culture; widely accepted; universal. The

    moon and the sun, the black and the white and the red, etc.

     Archetype: a term that derives from anthropologist James G. Frazers The

    Golden Bough (1890-1915) and the depth psychology of Carl Jung. Jung holds

    that certain symbols are so deeply rooted in the repeated shared experience of

    our common ancestors (collective consciousness of the human race) as to

    evoke an immediate and strong, if unconscious, response in any reader. e.g.

    Blackness in Heart of Darkness; initiation of the young in Young Goodman

    Brown and Araby

     Original symbols: the meaning of the symbols are neither immediate nor

    traditional, but derived largely if not exclusively from the context of the work: e.g. Moby Dick: in the novel, is imagined as brute strength and cunning

    whereas outside the novel, it is just a whale

    The use of symbols

     Setting: the forest in Young Goodman Brown and the house in the Fall of the

    House of Usher

     Plot: the archetypal pattern is the journey or quest, in which young men and

    women undergo a series of trials and ordeals that finally confirms their coming

    age and new found maturity

     Character: suggesting underlying moral, intellectual or emotional qualities; the

    revelation of personalities


    ; A work of fiction containing symbolism is not inherently or

    necessarily better than one that does not

     Symbolism itself doesnt make a work successful

     Symbolism must be an integral and organic part.


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