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 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 Wilson Thornley writes in his book, Short Story Writing, “the reader intensely participates through identification and such identification and participation are imperative.” CHARACTER 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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. 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. 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 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 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 POINT OF VIEW 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 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 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 We’ll go over it in another presentation. STYLE 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.