Literature and Composition I
ELEMENTS OF THE SHORT STORY
CHARACTER
CHARACTER

Character development in life is a continual
evolutionary and vital process in which we are
all participants--some more actively, directly,
and dynamically than others.
CHARACTER
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Because we bring to the reading of short
stories our own sense of character
development, we have a ready pool of
experience with which to explore the character
development in the short story.
CHARACTER
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Wilson Thornley writes in his book, Short Story
Writing, “the reader intensely participates
through identification and such identification
and participation are imperative.”
CHARACTER
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1.
2.
3.
4.
We come to know the characters in the short
story through the indirect method of:
Physical description
The character’s thoughts, feelings, and words
The comments and reactions of others
The actions of the character and the direct method of the
author’s stated opinion about the character
CHARACTER
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A person in a short story
is called a character.
The person around whom
the conflict revolves is
called the main character,
also known as the
protagonist.
The most prominent of
the characters who
oppose the protagonist is
the antagonist.
 Word
Origens
 Pro--for, in front of
 Anti--against
 Agonistes--actor
 Agonia--contest
CHARACTER

A protagonist can be virtuous or a villain.

An antagonist can be virtuous or a villain,
depending upon the protagonist, and is typically the
opposite.
CHARACTER

A foil is a character whose qualities or actions
serve to emphasize those of the protagonist by
providing a strong contrast with them.
CHARACTER TYPES

A static character is one who does not change
much in the course of the story.
CHARACTER TYPES

A dynamic character changes in some
important way as a result of the story’s events.
CHARACTER TYPES

Flat characters have few personality traits. They can
be summed up by a single phrase: the loyal sidekick,
the buffoon, the nosy neighbor.
CHARACTER TYPES

Round characters have more dimensions to
their personalities--they are more complex, just
as real people are.
CHARACTER
A motive is the reason
behind an individual’s
actions.
 It’s not what happens,
it’s WHY it’s all
happened.
 THEME

ANALYZING
“MARIGOLDS”
CHARACTER
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Who is our PROTAGONIST?
Is she a ROUND or a FLAT character?
How does she illustrate the complexities found in real
people?
 She is confused, she acts before thinking
How old is Lizabeth? Why is her age significant in the story?
 14-going-on-15
How old is Lizabeth as she narrates her story?
 How does this affect the point-of-view, tone and mood of
the story?
CHARACTER CONTINUED…
Who is the ANTAGONIST?
 Setting, Lizbeth herself
 Who is Miss Lottie?
 She is a big frame woman; she has smooth,
reddish-brown skin. She has Indian-like
features. She is very unemotional in her
facial expression. She didn’t like intruders
and she never left her yard nor did she have
any visitors.
 Is this direct or indirect characterization?

CHARACTER CONTINUED…

Describe Miss Lottie’s son, John Burke.
 “ageless…in
a mindless stupor…but he would
become enraged.”
Is he ROUND or FLAT?
 How is he important to the story?

 He
adds to the setting of decay and limits Miss
Lottie’s freedom to break away and find a better
life.
SETTING
SETTING
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Setting--or the time and place of the action in a short
story--has a definite impact on the character
development and plot.
The setting is often found in the exposition of the plot
and readily establish time and place.
SETTING IN FINDING FORRESTER
SETTING IN FINDING FORRESTER
SETTING/GEOGRAPHY
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What is the setting of the story?

a poor section of rural Maryland
What is the social setting/time period of the story?

the United States in the midst of the Depression
More?

Dust everywhere, dirt roads, shanty/ramshackle homes colored dull
gray
Describe the weather/season.

Late summer
Consider the hour

it’s just after 4 A.M.

What are some characteristics of time just before dawn?
 Four o’clock in the morning is a time when few people are awake
and it is still mostly dark. It is a time when a person who is awake
can easily feel “alone in the world.” The early hour tends to
isolate Lizabeth and make the reader wonder what she plans to
do.
How does all of this affect our character(s)?

“smoldering emotions of that summer swelled.”
SETTING/GEOGRAPHY CONTINUED…
 Describe
Miss Lottie’s house?
 the
most wretched, and her “queer headed” son on the
porch adds to the impression of lowliness
 What
does this tell us about her character?
 house
is a reflection of her social standing, which is
probably lower than Lizabeth’s
 How
does all of this affect plot?
 The
setting acts as an intrinsic part of the characters
motivations for behaving in the manner in which they do.
PLOT
PLOT

The term plot refers to the chain of events
which make up the short story. Each link in this
chain helps to build suspense and to solve a
problem.
PLOT
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The main character is presented with a conflict-a situation or a problem which he or she will be
called upon to resolve.
PLOT
Sometimes the problem lies within the main
character and is said to be internal.
 Other times, outside forces act upon the main
character, which is said to be an external
conflict.

PLOT
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There is a constant, ongoing struggle in which
the main character attempts to resolve his or
her problem; hence, he or she seeks a solution.
CONFLICT IN FINDING FORRESTER
What is the Jamal’s conflict?
 Forrester’s?

CONFLICTS CHARACTERS
ENCOUNTER
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Person vs. person
 Boxers, a debate
Person vs. self
 Liar, Liar with Jim Carey
Person vs. nature
 Castaway, Survivor Man
Person vs. society
 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Person vs. machine or technology
 Matrix
Person vs. the supernatural
 Haunted Mansion
CENTRAL CONFLICT

Identify the conflict Lizabeth struggles with following the
attack on Miss Lottie.
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What feelings are at the root of her conflict?


Deep down, Lizabeth knows she behaved childishly and she is
angry at herself for doing so.
Summarize the conversation that Lizabeth overhears.

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She is torn between feeling sorry for attacking Miss Lottie and
feeling that she somehow had a right to attack her.
Do you agree with this?
She overhears her father crying and her perception of her father
changes drastically.
How does the sound of her father’s crying affect her?

It makes her feel confused, helpless, and angry.
Internal Conflict/Person vs. Self
CENTRAL CONFLICT

What of setting and conflict?
External Conflict/Person vs. Environment
PLOT
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Throughout this struggle a growing excitement
or suspense is felt as the climax approaches.
Plot Development
Climax
Rising Action
Exposition
Falling
Action
Resolution/
Denouement
Climax:
•
At what point do we see a true change and self-recognition of that
change in Forrester?
•
What about Jamal?
• So whose movie is this?
Plot Development
Climax
Exposition
Rising Action
Climax:
Falling
Action
Resolution/
Denouement
•
At what point does the Exposition end and the Rising Action
begin?
•
The climax occurs when Lizabeth returns to Miss Lottie’s garden
and destroys it. Here is where Lizabeth loses control and strike
out as a result of the conflicts she has been struggling with.
•
•
Do you agree?
How does Lizabeth change in the moment she comes face to face
with Miss Lottie? What does she recognize in Miss Lottie’s face?
– Lizabeth realizes that as hard as her life is, Miss Lottie’s life is
much more difficult and without hope – she is able to feel
compassion for Miss Lottie.
PLOT
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The author often uses
certain techniques to
creatively unfold the
plot:
Flashback: a move back
in time to an earlier
incident.
Foreshadowing: a hint of
events which will occur
later in the story.
Does Collier use
flashback and/or
foreshadowing
in Marigolds?
POINT OF VIEW
POINT OF VIEW
The vantage point from which the writer tells a
story.
 In broad terms, there are four main points of
view.

POINT OF VIEW
First-person point of view.
 One of the characters in the story tells the
story.
 The narrator uses first person pronouns such
as I and we.
 Readers can know only what the narrator
knows.
 Examples: Speak, Catcher in the Rye, The
Adventures of Huck Finn, The House on Mango
Street
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POINT OF VIEW
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Third-person limited point of view.
An unknown narrator (usually thought of as the author) tells
the story.
The narrator zooms in to focus on the thoughts and feelings
of only one character.
In the case of third-person limited point of view, the narrator
can tell us many things about the character, things that the
character himself (or herself) might be unaware of.
Examples: Harry Potter--with very few exceptions (such as
the opening chapters of Philosopher's Stone and Deathly
Hallows and the first two chapters of Half-Blood Prince)
POINT OF VIEW
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The omniscient point of view.
An “all-knowing” narrator tells the story.
This narrator often tells us everything about many
characters:
Their motives, weaknesses, hopes, childhoods, and
sometimes, their futures.
Examples: Lord of the Rings
POINT OF VIEW
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The objective point of view.
An impersonal and objective narrator.
No opinionated comment on any characters or events.
Like the point of view of a movie camera.
Readers can know only what the camera might see.
The narrator does not reveal the unspoken thoughts of
the character.
Examples: Detective books, some of the short stories
we will read
THEME
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We’ll go over it in another presentation.
STYLE
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The distinctive way in which a writer uses language.
Styles can be plain, ornate, metaphorical, spare,
descriptive, and so on.
Style is determined by such factors as sentence length
and complexity, syntax, use of figurative language and
imagery, and diction.
WHO IS THE AUTHOR?

Eugenia Collier (b. 1928) is an award-winning
writer and critic best known for her 1969 short
story "Marigolds," which won the Gwendolyn
Brooks Prize for Fiction award.

Lecture 3-Story Elements