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The Background of Place, Objects, and Cultures in Stories
Characters do not exist in isolation, therefore setting is necessary
Types of Setting:
• • Nature and the Outdoors Objects of Human Manufacture • Cultural Conditions and Assumptions
Literary uses of Setting:
• Setting and Credibility Establish realism (even in sci-fi or ghost stories) • Setting and Character Role of place, circumstance and time in human growth and change Characters’ response to setting reveals their strengths or weaknesses • Setting and Organisation Framing, etc. • Setting and Symbol Emphasised place, object, etc. can mean much more than it seems • Setting and Atmosphere Functional description usually very brief, but if detailed description of shapes, sounds, light, shadows, smells, etc. included – atmosphere for an action is being created • Setting and Irony Establishes expectations that are the opposite of what occurs
Questions on Setting:
General: How vital are objects to the action/ development of idea? Are they connected to mental states of the characters? Do locations bring characters together/ separate them/ facilitate their privacy/ make their interactions difficult? Are character rich/ poor? How does it affect their actions, fate? How do characters respond to the cultural, religious, political conditions of the story? What is the connection between the state of houses/ furniture/ objects and the outlook and the behaviour of the characters? Are sounds and silences important? To what degree is music/ any sounds important to the development of character and action? Do characters respect or mistreat the environment? If there is environmental connection, how central is it to the story? Does the setting help understand more the plot and the story of the piece of fiction? What conclusions do you think the author expects you to draw as a result of the neighbourhood, culture and larger world of the story? More specific: • Setting and Action Are locations essential/ incidental to the action? Does the setting serve as a part of action? (is it important that it is hot or cold, night or day? etc.) Do any objects cause inspiration/ difficulty/ conflict? • Setting and organization How is setting connected to various parts of the work? Are some parts of the setting more important than others? How do descriptions made at the start become important in the action later on? • Setting and Character How does setting influence/ interact with character? What freedoms or restrictions does the setting cause? Is the character happy in his job, social class, flat? • Setting and Atmosphere How does setting contribute to the atmosphere of the story? What connection can we find between the story’s atmosphere and the author’s apparent thoughts about existence? • Setting and other aspects Does setting reinforce story’s credibility and meaning? Does it establish irony about circumstances and ideas in the story? Are there any symbolic implications of the setting in the story?
etc. avoidance. fighting. recurring themes. etc. idea.) 2 . imitation of reports. • People or circumstances a character must • Dilemma (a difficult/ impossible choice face and try to overcome an individual has to take) • Makes characters interact (decide. – Motivation and Causation Chronological order of events is not enough. etc. knowledge. Why? It creates interest: • Tension Doubt Curiosity Plot (Sjuzet) II. etc. tension is greatest) – closely followed by climax Actual Structure • Mystery story (exposition completed at the end) • Suspense story (protagonist kept ignorant. usually decision or action taken to resolve the conflict. sometimes the very end of the narrative • Complication (onset of the major conflict) – major participants are • Resolution/ Dénouement (bringing protagonist and antagonist + any from things to satisfying ending after the the types of conflict listed above climax) – should be brief because of readers’ interest • Crisis (turning point or separation between what has gone before and what will come after. conversations. Structure deals with placement. letters. etc.Session III. public opinion. lies. and so on. modes of behaviour. part of exposition. Plot (Sjuzet) I. pattern of causes and effects anger. – Structure The layouts of fictional works – the ways a novel. Story and Plot: The Development and Organization of Prose Fiction • Story (Fabula) Chronological order of actions or incidents that make up a piece of prose fiction. • Abstract conflicts (an individual opposes natural objects. Formal Categories of Structure • Exposition (laying out. balance. crisis and climax) Flashbacks (part of resolution. the putting forth. are shaped. Conflict Types of conflict • The controlling impulse in a connected • Opposition of two people (envy. everything is related and causative. take actions. hatred. reader becomes concerned for him/her) • • More than one conflict (affects complication. ignorance. a short story. confessions. To understand Plot (Structure) such arrangements must be studied and their purpose identified. true or misleading conclusions. argument. suspense. leading point to climax. gossip. Story (Fabula) must be enriched by motivation and causation. Nothing is irrelevant or accidental.) • Opposition between groups • • Conflict = major element of plot. • Climax (logical conclusion of the of the material of the piece of fiction) – preceding actions) – no major could occur anywhere in the narrative development follows it. In a well plotted piece of fiction effects follow causes. respond.
appear in the narrative (gaps in the time sequence. complication. crisis. are the characters happy or unhappy. changed or about the same. what are they? How are they brought out? Does the main character faces dilemma? What kind? How does he/she deal with it? How do the major characters achieve (not achieve) their major goal(s)? What obstacles do they overcome? What obstacles overcome them? At the end. what structural importance do these parts have? If there are no marked divisions. satisfied or dissatisfied. etc. parts of day. what major sections can you discover? (places. a realisation. increasingly important events. or a decision? To what degree does it relieve the work’s tension? What is the effect of the climax on the understanding of the character involved in it? How is this effect related to the arrangement of the climax? Who are the protagonist and antagonist? How do their characteristics put them in conflict? What conflict? How does the action develop from the conflict? If the conflict caused by contrasting ideas/ values. climax and resolution.• Plot I – Motivation. Causation Questions on Plot • Plot II – Structure If spaces or numbers divide the narrative into sections or parts. what purpose do these departures have? What variations in chronological order. flashbacks)? What effects are achieved by these variations? Does the narrative delay any crucial details of exposition? Why? What effects are achieved by the delay? Where does an important action or major section (such as climax) begin? End? How is it related to the other structural elements. if any.) If the narrative departs in major ways from the formal structure of exposition. enlightened or ignorant? How has the resolution of the major conflict produced these results? 3 . changing weather. such as the crisis? Is the climax an action.
true meaning is considerably less than situation.e.something happens or has double meaning something is said which violates what we normally expect ⁿOther types of irony (not directly connected with Tone and Style): • Situational – bad things happen to good people. Words should be Language right because they must make actions. slang. habit of speech. argot expressions) 4 . By means and Description. custom.Session IV. correct • Concrete – Abstract scale – refers to grammar) qualities and conditions (concrete. contractions. general – dessert) importance to the characters and actions being described. good ice cream) • Neutral (middle) – appropriate for stories about ordinary people in ordinary • Specific and Concrete words – help to circumstances. (elegant words. thus become the writer’s basic tools language which the characters would • General and Abstract words – used less have used themselves) often with specific goals and to fit • Informal (low) . Major components of Tone: Verbal Ironyⁿ Humor Laughter is unplanned. scenes or By means of choosing words from these scales ideas clear. (everyday standard visualise actions. (colloquial. i. rewards are not earned because of forces beyond human comprehension • Dramatic – characters have nonexistent/ partial/ incorrect/ misguided understanding of what is happening to them. jargon. personal. That is why situation • Overstatement (hyperbole) – expressions humor is difficult to analyze.e.natural for first-person specific contexts point of view stories and for dialogue passages. It is the choice of words in the service of content. There are two basic components: that are far in excess of the situation. to develop the argument. etc. etc. what is said dialect. less specific – fruit. Tone and Style: The Words that Convey Attitudes in Fiction Tone Tone refers to the methods by which writers and speakers reveal attitudes and feelings toward the material. cold ice cream. • Something to laugh at – person. Right words control the ways in the writer controls style in the interest of Tone which readers respond to the material. • Understatement – expression that does unpredictable and often prompted by flashes of not fully describe the importance of a insight and sudden revelations. of diction the writer controls the work’s Tone. • Specific – General scale – refers to • Formal (high) – confers major categories (very specific – peach. toward the readers or toward the general situations they are analysing or describing. scene and objects and vocabulary. i. while readers and other characters understand the situation more fully Style Style refers to the ways in which writers assemble words to tell the story.abstract. Major components of Style Specific – General and Concrete – Abstract Diction The writer’s selection of words. • Double entendre – what is said usually • Incongruity . idiosyncratic. thing. to dramatize the play or to compose the poem.
etc. there unusual expressions? What attitudes do indignation. rain.)? How is the situation of the story controlled Ideas – Are any ideas advocated. sunlight) complement/ oppose the circumstances of characters? Are there any systematic references to colors. mildly or attacked? How does the author clarify situations. cold. defended to shape your responses (i. do connotative meanings of words control response in any way? Does the diction require readers to have a large or What attitudes does the tone suggest? technical vocabulary? Do speech patterns or the How are made these attitudes obvious by the use of dialect evoke attitudes about speakers or author’s style their condition of life? Is the level of diction How strongly do you respond to the story? What formal. or character’s nature of the narrator (why does he speak as he does. situation and characters – Is any bring up the incongruity of funny situations? Are person or group directly addressed by the the objects of laughter still respected or even speaker? What attitude is expressed (love. • Denotation – refers to what a word means. confidentiality. through or unfavorable ideas or positions)? What is the understatement. diction – How do they relate to attitude? How do descriptions of natural scenery and conditions (snowstorms. etc)? What do instances causes amusement? of verbal irony show (optimism. • Connotation – refers to what a word suggests Questions on Tone and Style In case of diction. attitude or as embodiments of certain favorable by statement or indirectly. admiration. can actions. sounds.e. pessimism. concern. overstatement. writers control Tone even though they describe similar or identical situation (a slim girl x a skinny girl). etc. etc.? they show? • More specific questions Humor – is the story funny? How much? How is the humor achieved? How does the language Audience. middle or informal? What effect do substandard or slang expressions create? Are words bring out your interest. amusement. dislike. ice. how is the narrator’s character manipulated speeches? In what ways does the story assume agreement between author and readers? What to show apparent authorial attitude and to elicit religious views can you find? Political views? reader response)? Does the story promote Moral and behavioral standards. noises that collectively reflect attitude? 5 . characters be seen as expressions of his or her attitude toward these ideas – directly.? respect.Denotation and Connotation Through the careful choice of words for denotation and connotation. loved even though the story’s treatment of them respect. etc about the character or situation? How? • General questions Description.
It could be said that an allegory is to a symbol as a motion picture is to a still picture. action. Jesus – The Good Samaritan. Real-life people understand these literary devices through the connections they make between their own existence and particular objects or events.g. Aesop’s E. scene.g. • What is allegorical?ⁿ To determine what is and what is not allegorical. and ideas. understanding. What is symbolic?ⁿ It is necessary to judge what importance the author gives to a particular object.g.g. Stories can be allegories from the beginning to the end or they can contain one or more brief allegorical episodes. They allegory with a moral or religious bent. This time. Sisyphus = human condition (in spite of constant struggle. The mansion in the Fall of the as heirs of the same historical and House of Usher by E. however.Session V. This means that symbol is a substitute for the elements being signified. Types of allegories Although allegories do not seem to be divided in the same way as symbols are. writers expand their meaning while keeping their work within reasonable length. the following forms (genres) could be considered their subclasses: • Fable – Fables are stories often about • Parable – A parable is a short. etc. or ways of life on the other. But it also signifies another series of events and conditions. Symbolism and Allegory: Keys to Extended Meaning Symbolism and Allegory are modes that expand meaning. forgiveness. They embody ideas and a specific context of a particular work. E. character or action on the one hand. a flag = ideals of the nation. character. Poe = the cultural tradition. An allegory is formally a complete and self-sufficient narrative. simple animals that posses human traits. they have to refer to a part or to a whole story. If a writer uses such a decaying and dying condition of its symbol.g. If the element is prominent and maintains a constancy of meaning.g. The Fox and the Grapes = human trait of Prodigal Son = God’s love. emotions that writers and readers share E. persons. already know what the symbol represents. values. the element is most likely a symbol. somebody catches a fish and then lets it go – the act coincides with the person’s belief in freedom. Symbolism A symbol creates a meaningful equation between an object. usually contain ‘morals’. he or she assumes that readers inhabitants. A. e. E. E. person rarely completes anything). People can identify these connections by means of their experience or reading. • Allegory An allegory is ‘a more complex form of a symbol’. • Types of symbols • Contextual symbols – other objects and Cultural (universal) symbols – symbols that are generally or universally description can become symbols only in recognized. it is necessary to ask similar series of questions as in case of symbols. concern. 6 . By highlighting objects as symbols and stories or parts of stories as allegories. belittling things we cannot have.
etc. contradictory or ironic? Do the symbols control the form of the work? How? Do the symbols fit naturally or artificially into the context of the story? • The application of meaning of the allegory What is the subject of the story (story= allegory. myth)? How can it be more generally applied to ideas or to qualities of human character.) that enables you to determine its mythological significance? How is the myth to be understood? What symbolic value does the myth have? What current and timeless application does it have? Specific questions on symbolism and allegory (in addition to those listed above) • The meaning of a major symbol Does the symbol undergo modification or new application as it reappears? Does it bring out any ironies? • The development and relationship of symbols How do the symbols connect with each other? Are they complementary. or the idea that all problems may be solved by science). etc. works of national classics). embody the allegory? On what basis do you draw these conclusions? How complete is the allegorical reading? How might the allegory yield to a diagram which shows how characters.g. The term also refers to abstractions and ideas that people today hold collectively (e. allusions. Would it be correct to call the story allegorical rather than allegory? Can you determine how parts of the story are introduced for their allegorical importance? 7 . places. ancient history and literature. particular philosophies or religious views? If so.g. objects. objects or ideas correspond to an allegorical meaning? What enables you to identify the story as a parable or fable? What lesson or moral is either clearly stated or implicit? What mythological identification is established in the work? What do you find in the story (names. or only a part. if any? Does it illustrate. consistency of narrative. philosophical and cultural values of the civilization in which it is composed. Such stories are not confined to the past. the Bible. parable. ⁿIn determining whether an element or a longer piece of fiction is symbolic or allegorical.• Myth – A myth is a traditional story that embodies and codifies the religious. what are these? How do you know? • The consistency of the allegory Is the allegory used consistently throughout the story. or is it used intermittently? Explain and illustrate such use. literary context. actions. General questions on symbolism and allegory • Symbolism What cultural symbols can you discover in names. not only of its own time but also of our own? What other versions of the story do you know.)? How consistent is the allegorical application? Does the entire work. concept of never-ending economic growth. situations. either closely or loosely. situations or actions in a work? What contextual symbolism can be found in a work? What makes you think it is symbolic? What is being symbolized? How definite or direct is the symbolism? How systematically is it used? How necessary to the work is it? To what degree does it strengthen the work? How strongly does the work stand on its own without the reading for symbolism? Is it possible to make parallel lists to show how qualities of a particular symbol match the qualities of a character or action? • Allegory How clearly does the author point you toward the allegorical reading (through names. readers should not forget allusions – references to other works from cultural heritage (e. fable.
person. • Tells his/ her own story and thoughts as a major mover or 3. Nonparticipating. letters. reported or overheard conversation. Point of view involves not only the speaker’s physical position as an observer and recorder but also the ways in which the speaker’s social. or voice created by authors to tell stories. complete understanding 1. Limited or limited omniscient • Tells a story about others and The focus is on the actions. listening to participants. The narration may involve • Tells a story mainly about others what the character does and it may also and about him/ herself only probe deeply within the consciousness of tangentially the character. Major participant either characters when it is necessary. Omniscient limitations that lead them to mislead. 2. also about him/ herself as one of thoughts and feelings of a single major the major movers or character. Conditions that affect point of view The physical situation of the narrator as an The narrator’s intellectual and emotional position – The speaker: observer – The speaker: • gains/ looses from what takes place in • close/ distant to the action? the story? • a participant/ a witness? • his/ her observations coloured by such • knows everything/ only something? interests? • reports the events accurately/ • imparts values to the action? inaccurately? • Etc. complete understanding with the motive characters are included only if they are to mislead or lie spoken or written (dialogue. Dramatic or third person objective 2.) 8 . • etc. reporter of actions and speeches. no understanding at all seen and heard. The omniscient speaker sees all. political and mental circumstances affect the narrative. knows all and explains the inner Degree of participation: workings of the minds of any or all 1. reports. responses. How much do such narrators know: How much do such narrators understand: 1. The thoughts of the 4. narrator. Narrators 2-4 can be etc. partial/ incorrect understanding The narrator reports only what can be 3. identifiable speaker views of the authors themselves (“the authorial Learns about events in other ways voice”) (documents. etc. imagining. all. Minor participant Tells a story about events experienced Note: Third person speakers who are not and witnessed separately identifiable may represent words and 3. reports distort or lie. Note: point of view is not opinion Kinds of point of view Third person point of view First person point of view First person speakers are involved in the action of The speaker is outside the action and is mainly a the work. present arguments and express attitudes and judgements. Point of View: The Position or Stance of the Narrator or Speaker The term point of view refers to the speaker.Session VI.) • reliable • unreliable – those with interests or 2.
• What is the situation that prompts the history. seem to have anything to hide? Does it does this point of view extend to all seem that he may be using the story for characters or just a few)? Generally. The narrator does not have a present involved listener. religion. what relationship.g.anyone at all • General Questions on Point of View How does the narrator perceive the time of the actions? If the tense is mostly the past. speeches and explanations appropriate to him and the situation? made fully or sparsely? How much does he tell about himself? • From what apparent vantage point does • To what degree is the narrator involved the speaker report action and speeches? in the action (major/ minor participant.Second person point of view The least common point of view.himself or herself .g. A narrator (almost necessarily a first person speaker) tells a present involved listener what he or she has done and said at a past time – the speaker knows more about the character’s actions than the character him/herself. drawing conclusions. art. what effect does it have on your understanding of the story? Does the point of view make the story interesting and effective or does it not? • Specific Questions on Point of View Third person point of view First person point of view • What is the speaker’s background? What • Does the author seem to be speaking in prompts him/ her to tell the story? an authorial voice or has the author adopted a special but unnamed voice for • Is the speaker talking to a listener or to the work? himself? How does his audience affect • What is the speaker’s level of language? what he says? Is the level of language Are actions. providing explanations)? If the tense is present. Two major possibilities exist: 1.g. e. does the speaker establish between the past and the present (e. music)? use of the second person? How does the speaker acquire the authority to explain things to the listener? How directly involved is the listener? If the listeners are indefinite. why does the speaker choose to use “you” as the basis of the narration? 9 .g. a sports umpire to a player 2. • How reliable is the speaker? Does he how extensive is this omniscience (e.g. self-justification or exoneration? What what limitations or freedoms can be effect does this complexity have on the attributed to this point of view? story? • What special kinds of knowledge does Second person point of view the narrator assume that the listeners (readers) possess (e. parent to a child about the child’s infancy – the speaker explains another person his/ her disputable actions and statements e. He or she uses “you” to mean: . Does this vantage point make the non-participating observer)? Does he characters distant or close? How much make himself a center of humor or sympathy does the speaker express for admiration? How? Does he seem aware the characters? of changes he undergoes? • To what degree is your interest centered • Does the speaker criticize other on a particular character? Does the characters? Why? Does he seem to report speaker give you thoughts and responses fairly and accurately what others have of this character (limited third person)? told him? • If the work is third person omniscient. if any.
the author’s opinions may be questioned. actions. say and think under the condition presented in the story. statements. Their main function is recognize. isolated incidents that happen to characters.e. we should look beyond. 2. occur in their life (e. etc. so they are sometimes called hero/ performing their role and exhibiting just heroine. 10 . arresting). and thoughts must be what human beings are likely to do. Types of Characters • Flat Characters • Round Characters Authors present enough details about round Flat characters are static – they do not grow and characters. • Statements by other characters These statements also help to understand the characters who are being discussed as well as the characters who utter such statements. Characters in fiction should be true to life.) acceptance of a new condition and the need to for are representative of their class or group and in making changes. the detective. investigating. what he says about the character is usually accurate. and adjust to to highlight the development of the round circumstances (Such changes may be shown in characters. Standard of verisimilitude/ probability/ plausibility. the discovery of unrecognised the story appear in situations which repeatedly truth. change with.Session VII.g. realisation of new strength and therefore Stock (stereotype) characters (cowboy.) are not traits. because internal quality determines the external behaviour and not vice versa. • Statements by the author speaking as storyteller or observer If the author speaks in the authorial voice (see the third person point of view). though readers should see through such a ploy. Round characters usually play major role in a Stock characters stay flat if they do no more than story. circumstances. • Descriptions (personal and environmental) Appearance and environment reveal much about a character’s social and economic status and about his/her character traits. Circumstances (i. But when the authorial voice interprets actions and characteristics. or protagonist (antagonist). their appearance. When we are reading about fictional characters. Often characters use speech to hide their motives. etc. Their actions. lovable drunk. conventional and unindividual character traits) How is character disclosed? • Actions What characters do is the best clue to understand what they are and how they change. a character is a verbal representation of a human being and a trait is the character’s habitual mode of behaviour. Notes: 1. actions and appearances and determine what these things show about character. Round characters are dynamic – they play minor role in a story. • Dramatic statement and thoughts What characters say and think also reveals what the characters are. submissive wife. police the affirmation of previous decisions. Circumstances have value only if they demonstrate important traits. Characters: The People in Fiction Writers of fiction create narratives that can enhance and deepen our understanding of human character and human life. In literature. It is necessary to get from the outside to the inside.
deliberate or spontaneous? What do they tell us about the character? What are the character’s major and minor traits? To what extent do they help us to judge the character? What descriptions (if any) of the character’s appearance do we discover in the story? What does the appearance demonstrate about the character? In what ways is the character’s major trait a strength or a weakness? As the story progresses. is the trait brought up first by the with character stand out? Are there any important comments of other characters and later by the quotations spoken by the character or by main character’s own actions)? someone else? How do such elements serve as signposts or guides to understanding the • Character’s growth and change character? What are the character’s traits when the story • Qualities of a flat character or characters begins? How do they change or develop as the story progresses? How are the changes brought What can we say about the function and relative out within the work? significance of the flat character. to what degree does the character stay in the stereotypical role or rise above it? How? What do any of the other characters do. the group he represents. the importance of this relationship? What circumstances or defects keep the character from being round? How important are these shortcomings in the author’s presentation of the character? • Questions related to the conclusion of our analysis How are the character’s traits related to the work as a whole? If the person’s good and comes to a bad end. the relationship of the flat character to the round ones. demonstrating only the attitudes typical for his/her class or group). what function does he or she perform in the story? If the character is a stereotype (i.• • • • • • • • • • • • General questions on characters How important is the character to the story’s principal action? Is the character the protagonist or antagonist? How do the protagonist and antagonist interact? What changes do their interactions bring about? What actions bring out important traits of the character? To what degree is the character creating or just responding to events? Are the protagonist’s actions good or bad. objects or quotations that • Central traits or major character How does the work embody the trait? In what reveal primary characteristics differing ways does the author present the Do any incidents or objects closely associated character (e. to what degree does the trait become more (less) prominent? Is the character round and dynamic? How does the character recognize. does it make him or her especially worthy? If the person suffers. or think to give us insight into the character? What does the character say or think about himself or herself? What does the narrator say? How valid are they comments and insights? How helpful in providing insight into the character? Is the character lifelike or unreal? Consistent or inconsistent? Believable or unbelievable? Specific ways of thinking about characters • Central actions. does it suggest any attitudes about the class or type of which he or she is part? Or does it illustrate the author’s general view of human life? Or both? Do the characteristics explain why the person helps or hinders other characters? How does your analysis help in clearing up first-reading misunderstanding? Etc. say. 11 .e.g. change with or adjust to circumstances? If the character is minor (flat or static). intelligent or stupid.
Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. V. Prentice Hall. H. JACOBS. E.Bibliography: ROBERTS.. 1998 12 . E.
RS III American Literature Writer’s Tools (A few notes for better appreciation of a literary text) 13 .
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