Elements of the Short Story
Short stories often contain structural
and character elements that are familiar to students.
These elements can be used as "signposts" to help
students think about the actions, themes, and contexts
of the play.
1. Characters: Students can
identify kinds of characters: dynamic vs. static;
flat or stereotypical vs. well-rounded or original.
2. Plot: Students can separate
the play into "parts" such as introduction, rising
and falling action, complication, crisis, resolution.
3. Point of View: Point of
view answers the question: whose voice tells the
story or gives us the crucial information we need
to understand what is happening? Does one character
control our understanding of events, or do we have
an "omniscient" narrator who gives us facts and
insights that the characters themselves do not have?
How does the voice or consciousness that acts as
the point of view shape our interpretations? What
might happen if another point of view took charge?
4. Types of Imagery: Are there
patterns of colors or light and dark that develop
as the story progresses? Are there archetypal motifs
such as journeys, birth/death, awakening, sacrifice?
How are elements of space and time used-morning
to evening, seasons, directions (east to west),
closed vs. open areas?
One of the most useful ways to encourage students
to respond to these plays is through comparisons,
including comparisons of literary devices. Students
learn by relating, and each of these plays responds
to the others through a variety of contexts. However,
the plays also offer students a chance to identify
with other people and situations in some original
ways as well. While the plays offer rich opportunities
for traditional literary analysis, they also,
through their use of voice and sound, can turn
students' imaginations in new directions. Read