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Analyzing Short Stories

Author(s): Joseph Lostracco, George Wilkerson, David Lydic

Edition: 10

Copyright: 2020

Pages: 502

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Analyzing Short Stories takes a classic, tried and true approach to the study of literature.

The book gives students the easiest place for them to begin learning the concepts of analysis and evaluation because the structure and elements are generally the same; each story contains a conflict, characters, a setting, an emphasis on language, and a clear distinctive voice.

Analyzing Short Stories provides the information students need to understand the principles of literary writing and promotes a format for writing analytical  papers about short stories.

Once they have mastered the analytical process, students discover a new appreciation of literature and how to objectively judge a story’s quality. And this analytical skill can be generalized and extended to nonliterary subjects, providing them with a solid approach to writing about subjects in the sciences and humanities.

Foreword

 1 The Central Idea
THE CENTRAL IDEA
THE CENTRAL IDEA AS THE GUIDING FORCE
The Central Idea and the Elements of Fiction
THE CENTRAL IDEA AS THE INTERPRETATION
SOURCES FOR CENTRAL IDEAS
Psychological Stories
Sociological Stories
Philosophical Stories
Didactic Stories
Escapist Stories

IF THE CENTRAL IDEA ISN’T A MORAL, WHAT IS IT?
WRITING THE ANALYSIS
SAMPLES
COMMON INTERPRETATION PITFALLS
Differing Interpretations
Complex Ideas
Ideas That Conflict with Your Own
Meaning Beyond the Story

 2 Character
CHARACTER TYPES
Round and Flat Characters
Details
The “Gray Area”
Complexity
Major and Minor Characters
Major Characters
Minor Characters
Stereotypes
Static and Dynamic Characters
The Static Character
The Dynamic Character

CHARACTER PRESENTATION OR EXPOSITION
What the Narrator Says (Direct)
What the Character Does (Indirect)
What the Character Says (Indirect)
What the Character Thinks (Indirect)

 3 Conflict
DEVIATING FROM CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
THE MAJOR ELEMENTS OF A PLOT
CONFLICT AND PLOT
EXTERNAL CONFLICTS
INTERNAL CONFLICTS
CONFLICT RESOLUTION
CONFLICT AND THE CENTRAL IDEA
CONFLICT AND CHARACTER

 4 Point of View
THE FIRST PERSON POINT OF VIEW
The First Person Narrator’s Perspective
Confusing the Narrator with the Author
Contributions the First Person Makes to a Story

THE OMNISCIENT POINT OF VIEW
Total vs. Limited Omniscience
Contributions Omniscience Makes to a Story

THE DRAMATIC POINT OF VIEW
Contributions the Dramatic Makes to a Story
COMBINATIONS AND CONSISTENCY IN POINT OF VIEW

 5 Setting
SPECIFIC VS. GENERAL SETTINGS
THE SETTING AND THE CENTRAL IDEA

6 Language
DICTION
Denotation and Connotation
IMAGERY
Literal and Figurative Images
Similes and Metaphors
Imagery and Other Elements
Imagery and Character
Imagery and Setting
Imagery and Tone
Allusions
Repetition

SYMBOLISM
Universal Symbols
Contextual Symbols
Characters as Symbols
Objects as Symbols
Actions as Symbols
Allegory: The Symbolic Story

IRONY
Verbal Irony
Dramatic Irony
Situational Irony

DIALOGUE
SYNTAX
The Periodic Sentence

 7 Tone
DISCOVERING AND DESCRIBING THE TONE
Similes and Metaphors
Allusions
Repetition
Diction
Symbolism
Dialogue
Syntax
The Periodic Sentence
Irony

DEFINING THE TONE
A Comical/Humorous Tone
A Sorrowful/Sad Tone
Eerie/Fearful/Terrifying

TONE AND THE ELEMENTS OF FICTION
Character
Conflict
Point of View
Language
Setting
Shift in Tone

 8 The Creative Writing Process
THE REVISION PHASE
Character Revisions
Conflict Revisions
Point of View Revisions
Setting Revisions
Language Revisions
Syntax
Diction
Imagery
Symbolism
Irony
Tone

 9 Additional Methods of Analysis
ANALYSIS THROUGH A DOMINANT ELEMENT
Alice Munro’s “How I Met My Husband”  by Dana Ross
A Comparative Analysis of Katherine Mansfield’s “Miss Brill” and James Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by Mark Hall
A Comparative Analysis of Roald Dahl’s “The Way Up to Heaven” and James Thurber’s “The Catbird Seat” by Lee Anne Aspra

READING FOR COMPARISON/CONTRAST

10 Sample Essays
An Analysis of Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” by Brandi Grissom
An Analysis of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” by Carlos Salinas
An Analysis of Character in Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace” by Rachel Back
A Comparative Analysis of John Updike’s “A & P” and Sherwood Anderson’s “I’m a Fool” by Dwight Paul Waites
A Documented Analysis of Language in John Updike’s “A & P”

11 Analyzing Other Forms of Literature
ANALYZING A NOVEL
Central Idea
Plot
Conflict
Characters
Setting
Point of View
Language

ANALYZING A PLAY
Plot
Conflict
Characters
Setting
Point of View
Language

ANALYZING A SCREENPLAY
Plot
Conflict
Characters
Setting
Point of View
Language

ANALYZING A POEM
Symbolism
Metaphors (and Similes)
Diction
Syntax
The Periodic Sentence
Irony

SUGGESTED READINGS
Novels
Plays
Screenplays
Poems

Stories for Further Study and Analysis
“A & P” by John Updike
“A Jury of Her Peers” by Susan Glaspell
“Arrangement in Black and White”by Dorothy Parker
“Astronomer’s Wife” by Kay Boyle
“Carlyle Tries Polygamy” by William Melvin Kelley
“Désirée’s Baby” by Kate Chopin
“Haircut” by Ring Lardner
“Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut
 “Inflexible Logic” by Russell Maloney
“Offloading for Mrs. Schwartz” by George Saunders
“Paul’s Case” by Willa Cather
“Soldier’s Home” by Ernest Hemingway
“Son in the Afternoon” by John A. Williams
“Ten Miles West of Venus” by Judy Troy
“The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck
“The Furies” by Paul Theroux
“The Girls in Their Summer Dresses” by Irwin Shaw
“The Lottery” (1948) by Shirley Jackson
“The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell
“The Moths” by Helena María Viramontes
“The Possibility of Evil” by Shirley Jackson
“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber
“The Star” by Arthur C. Clarke
“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin
“The Trusty” by Ron Rash
 “The Way Up to Heaven” by Roald Dahl
“This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona” by Sherman Alexie
“ To Build a Fire” by Jack London
“Yolanda” by Oscar Casare

Joseph Lostracco

George Wilkerson

George Wilkerson has worked in business and industry as a Technical Writer and as a teacher of Composition and Literature for more than 40 years. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English at SUNY Geneseo, a Master’s Degree in playwriting at Syracuse University, and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Texas at Austin,  where he later became the first Dean of Instruction at the newly formed Austin Community College. He also was one of the original members of Esther’s Follies (a satirical comedy and music revue in Austin) where he wrote sketches and musical parodies which are performed by the group to this day. He subsequently wrote and produced a collection of those sketches called the River City Revue and collaborated with the composer Robert Skiles on Mondo Texas and ROBOCLAUS, a children’s Christmas musical.

He currently teaches ‘live’ and online classes in English Composition, at Columbia State Community College, and has taught online for a number of schools, including Southern New Hampshire University. His Dr. Write web site [www.drwrite.com] provides support for students and teachers using Analyzing Short Stories.

David Lydic

David Lydic attended Brazosport High school on the Texas coast and is proud that his first college degree is an Associate’s. He received a Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1974, a Master’s in English from the University of Houston in 1976, and a PhD in English Education from the University of Texas at Austin in 1988.

While working on his PhD, teaching part-time at Austin Community College and San Antonio College gave him a taste for teaching students at a two-year college. He has now taught English at ACC for 36 years.

He has had the good fortune to hold a variety of positions at Austin Community College: department chair of English, Interim Dean of Arts and Humanities, Interim Dean of Communications, the college’s first Director of Faculty Development, Special Assistant to the President, and president of the Faculty Senate.

He has been involved with regional and national professional organizations for many years, and regularly attends and presents at national conferences.

Teaching is where his heart is. To channel Lou Gehrig, David considers himself to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth to have been able to make a career in teaching at a community college.

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