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Purpose The purpose of this module is to enhance your skills in identifying and understanding another set of the elements of fiction present in the basic English readings you may study in your GEEN 1102, English as a Second Language II or in any other reading course. Remember that by identifying those elements and by understanding how they work, you prepare yourself to read closely and interpret well.
Introduction Fiction is the telling of stories which are not entirely based upon facts; it is an imaginative form of narrative. However, works of fiction need not be entirely imaginary and may include real people, places, and events. The length of a fictional piece determines the quantity of themes in it. Irony or symbols are not always present. The authors style arouses the readers emotions and conveys the meanings in each story. Tone is the particular glass through which authors present their subject matters. This module will lead you through the study of theme, symbol, irony, authors style, and tone so you can learn to distinguish between the imaginative and unimaginative facts in fiction.
General Objective After examining this module, you will be able to study a fictional account through the elements included here.
Specific Objectives By the end of this module, you will… 1.state the theme or themes in the story. 2.explain the symbols. 3.show understanding of the irony in the plot. 4.describe the tone. 5.analyze the authors style.
Part I. Read the following fictional story The Caribbean Pearl* The town of Naguabo is located on the eastern coast of the island of Puerto Rico. It is a small town with high hills and very narrow, curvy roads with shady mango, oak and flamboyan trees that flourish on both sides. The trees are so thick that the road is totally shaded, but during the night the road becomes sinister. It is like driving through this dark, pitch-black tunnel. You can't see anything! In fact, it's very scary. However, during the day you can admire the beauty of the coastal ocean while driving along these shores. There are many small kioskos, small restaurants that sell fish supplied by fishermen who live in the small fishing village called Hucares.
Sal, a fisherman from this village, has a nine- year-old son who also wants to be a fisherman. Every morning they wake up at 4:00 a.m. to prepare for their fishing trip. Father and son begin their workday walking down the steep hills, feeling the morning dew refresh their cheeks as they chat happily on their way to their boat. Five minutes after rowing into the ocean, fishing rods and net ready for their first catch, they turn to look at Playa Hucares to enjoy the peace and quietness felt only in the early hours of the day. This tranquil time cannot compare to the later hours of the day when crowds of people stop to buy fresh fish and eat delicious arepas, fried dough, for lunch.
While Sal and his son observe the shores, they see the majestic castle that stands on the far end of the pier. Its architectural details make it intriguing, particularly because it is different from the small, humble homes of the villagers. The castle has bright cobalt blue tiles decorating the roofs and it is painted bright pink, with its old- fashioned French windows facing the sea. It has tall cone-shaped towers, like a very old run- down miniature sample of Disney World's castle. Many people say this castle is haunted and the children of the neighborhood do not dare come near the house. Samuel is hypnotized by the mystery this place holds.
Father, tell me about this castle!" Samuel asks. Sal says, "Well, it is said that many years ago the man who built this castle loved the sea and guarded this coast. Thieves have tried to break into the castle but are scared off by the spirit of this man. Some people say that you can see spirits floating around in the living room." "One day I will go in," Samuel replies. "Remember, it's private property," Sal reminds his son. By 7:45 they had caught the usual number of fish they sell in one day. Sal tells Samuel to hurry or he will be late to school.
Two weeks later, Samuel wakes up earlier than usual. It is only 3:30 a.m. He jumps out of bed, prepares his fishing rod, and he heads towards the castle. He has other ideas in mind. It is very dark outside, but he isn't afraid. As he approaches the castle, he hears some voices and sees some dim lights inside. His curiosity grows stronger so he walks directly towards the house. As he enters the front gate he feels a little nervous, but he goes on. He wanders around the house and stops when he is faced with the ocean.
"What a wonderful sight," he thinks. He stands there in awe of the splendor of the tranquil sea. Suddenly, he notices there are some translucent fish jumping for joy out of the water as if they were playing hide and seek. Samuel leaves the castle, compelled by the parade of brilliantly colored tropical fish he has seen. Orange, blue, yellow, green, red, and even pink are the parading fish. He gets into his father's boat and rows to take a closer peek at these colorful fish when out of the water jump two radiant, orange fish.
"Wow!" Samuel shouts. "You are gorgeous! Why do you shine so bright?" One of the fish sticks his head out of the water and replies, "I shine this bright because I am the messenger of the sea. Samuel is baffled, in total shock. "I must be dreaming. I can't be hearing a fish talk," he says to himself. clown fish "Well, you're not crazy. I can talk," replies the orange fish. "I am a clown fish that cannot smile anymore. There is an important message you must pass on to your people and especially the kids. Many fish are getting sick and dying; the waters are contaminated by the amounts of trash dumped in the sea.
The fish continues, "I have been to the coast of Fajardo, from where I have seen the beautiful Conquistador and the Seven Seas. I have been to Luquillo's deep oceans near the kioskos. I've been to Cabo Rojo's shores and have seen the exotic lighthouse. I've been to Mar Chiquita. I've been to Aguadilla's Crash Boat Beach, and even to San Juan's coastal seas which placidly touch El Morro's shores. All the fish are suffering from the same problem, too. Please tell your friends and neighbors that we are dying of polluted waters. God blessed this small island. It is the paradise of the Caribbean Sea. Your own people are killing its beauty.
We, the fish dwelling in your waters, are worried about your future. Go and tell your friends at school to take care of this chosen Pearl." In total amazement, Samuel rows to the shore as fast as he can. When he looks towards the castle, he sees floating human shadows waving at him as if saying goodbye or hello. While he strolls back home, he hears voices coming from the castle whispering soft-sounding words carried through the air "Samuel … save our island... save… save our Paradise. * Reference Mezo, T. (1999). Stories for the Mind and Soul. Mexico: International Thomson Editors.
Part II. Select the correct answer. 1.The main theme in The Caribbean Pearl is: a. clown fish live in the east coast of Puerto Rico. b. pollution of the ocean waters around Puerto Rico. c. sea life is in danger of extinction because Puerto Ricans have polluted the ocean waters. 2.Puerto Ricans are contaminating the fish that they consume as delicious. The statement is an example of a. symbolism. b. irony. c. style. 3.Which of the following is another theme in the story? a. Apparently, there is an island- wide lack of interest in keeping the ocean water clean. b. clown fish talk to children. c. there are haunted castles all over Puerto Rico. 4."I am a clown fish that cannot smile anymore. The statement is an example of a. symbolism. b. irony. c. tone.
5.The title of the story The Caribbean Pearl is symbolic and refers to a. Puerto Rico. b. Naguabo. c. El Morro. 6.The authors tone in the story can be described as a. fantastic (fantasy). b. serious (of concern). c. childish (children-like). 7.Which of the following reasons is mentioned in the story as the cause of ocean-water pollution? a. Oil spills from aquatic vehicles occur frequently. b. There are dead fish at the bottom of the sea. c. Trash is dumped into the oceans. 8.We, the fish dwelling in your waters, are worried about your future. The statement is an example of the _____ of the story. a. theme b. irony c. tone
9.To be called a symbol, an item must suggest a meaning _______ in kind from its literal meaning. a. different b. similar c. larger 10.Which of the following does not define irony? a. incongruity. b. sarcasm. c. discrepancy. Now, I invite you to check the Answer Key and find out how well you did on the Pre-Test. Success!
Pre-Test Answer Key 1. C 2. B 3. A 4. C 5. A 6. B 7. C 8. C 9. A 10. B
Pre-Test Assessment 10 or 9ExcellentGo to the Post Test. 9 or 8Very GoodReview the incorrect answers and go to the Post Test. 7You need some practice Review the incorrect answers; study the elements of fiction presented in this module; do the assessment exercises and then go to the Post Test. 6 or lessYou need to work the complete module Study the module; review the elements of fiction carefully and do the assessment exercises. Then, you can go to the Post Test. I expect you have been a champ!
Elements of Fiction Theme---Symbolism---Irony--- Style---Tone
Elements of Fiction Theme, Symbolism, Irony, Style, and Tone are other elements which fiction writers use to develop a story.
#1 Theme Of the various elements of fiction, theme is probably the most difficult to discuss. This is why there is a great difference between reading a story that explores the theme of the difficulty of love and reading the message: "Love is difficult." in a fortune cookie.
It is the central idea or central message of the story. Theme It is the understanding that the author seeks to communicate through the work. It gives the work its purpose and has a great deal to do with the way the whole story is constructed. It usually contains some insight into the human condition. Not all stories have theme.
The theme… 1. can be a revelation of human character; 2. may be stated briefly or at great length. 3. is not the "moral" of the story. 4. must be expressible in the form of a statement. For example not "motherhood" but "Motherhood sometimes has more frustration than reward." Theme is the controlling idea or central insight of a story.
A theme must be stated as a generalization about life. 1. Names of characters or specific situations in the plot are not to be used when stating a theme. 2. A theme must not be a generalization larger than is justified by the terms of the story.
A theme is the central and unifying concept of the story. The theme must adhere to the following requirements: 1.It must account for all the major details of the story. 2.It must not be contradicted by any detail of the story. 3.It must not rely on supposed facts - facts not actually stated or clearly implied by the story. 4.It is not the moral of the story; the two concepts are different.
Any statement that reduces a theme to some familiar saying, aphorism, or cliché should be avoided. For example: Do not use sayings (refranes) like: "A stitch in time saves nine; "You can't judge a book by its cover; "Fish and guests smell in three days; and so on.
Assessment Activity on Theme Mark with an X on the blank, the items which state a Theme correctly. 1.___Motherhood 2.___Motherhood sometimes has more frustration than reward. 3.___Honesty is the best policy. 4.___People tend to grow more conservative as they grow older.
#2 Symbol A literary symbol is something that means more than what it really is. It has layers of meanings. Whereas an image has one meaning, a symbol has many. A. Names used as symbols. B. Use of objects as symbols. C. Use of actions as symbols.
The ability to interpret symbols is essential to the full understanding and enjoyment of any fictional piece of literature. 1.The story itself must furnish a clue that a detail is to be taken symbolically symbols nearly always signal their existence by emphasis, repetition, or position. 2.A symbol has a cluster of meanings. I present you helpful suggestions for identifying literary symbols:
3.The meaning of a literary symbol must be established and supported by the entire context of the story. A symbol has its meaning inside not outside a story. 4.To be called a symbol, an item must suggest a meaning different in kind from its literal meaning.
Examples on Symbols In the novel The Pearl by John Steinbeck, the pearl that Kino (the protagonist) found represented different things for different characters: For Juana, Kinos wife, the pearl meant a religious marriage (now they could pay the priest to marry them). For Kino, the pearl represented school for his son, Coyotito (he could buy uniforms and books for his son). At the beginning, the pearl represented a better life. At the end, the pearl represented death, misfortune, and unhappiness.
More Examples on Symbols A journey can symbolize life. A lion can be a symbol of courage. Water may represent cleanliness and renewal. A red rose can represent love.
#2 Irony Irony is a term with a range of meanings, all of them involving some sort of discrepancy or incongruity. Irony not be confused with sarcasm which is simply language designed to cause pain.
Irony Irony is used to suggest the difference between appearance and reality, between expectation and fulfillment, the complexity of experience, to furnish indirectly an evaluation of the author's material, and at the same time to achieve compression.
Three Kinds of Irony A. Verbal irony - the opposite is said from what is intended. B. Dramatic irony - the contrast between what a character says and what the reader knows to be true. C. Irony of situation - discrepancy between appearance and reality, or between expectation and fulfillment, or between what is and what would seem appropriate.
Irony Like symbolism, irony makes it possible to suggest meanings without stating them. Simply by juxtaposing or putting together two discordant facts in the right contextual mix, the writer can start a current of flow between them. In other words, ironic contrast generates meaning.
#3 Style Style is sometimes listed as one of the fundamental elements of fiction. Style is a twin sister to Tone, as you will find out in the next slides.
Style Style involves, of all, the power to put facts with clarity and brevity. Style is simply the effective use of language, especially in prose, whether to make statements or to awaken emotions.
Style is not so much what is written but how it is written. Style in fiction refers to language conventions used to construct the story. A fiction writer may manipulate diction, sentence structure, phrasing, dialogue, and other aspects of language to create style. The communicative effect created by the author's style is sometimes referred to as the story's voice. Every writer has his or her own unique style, or voice. A story's style and voice contribute to its tone.
# 4 Tone Tone refers to the attitude that the story creates toward its subject matter. For example, a story may convey an earnest and sincere tone toward its characters and events, signaling to the reader that the material is to be taken in a serious, dramatic way. On the other hand, an attitude of humor or sarcasm may be created through subtle language and content manipulation.
Tone The English language offers a vast selection of choices in sentence structure, phrasing, vocabulary, verb tense, and voice. Fiction writers use this variety to their advantage in crafting a thought, description, or action.
Tone Different language choices can create a huge range of styles and tones for any given expression. These different styles and tones give the story its unique meaning. In most cases, a storys way of being told is at least as significant as its content.
Tone Lets take, for example, the somewhat common experience of getting a parking ticket. Here are several ways the parking ticket experience might be expressed by the recipient. 1.The policeman gave me a parking ticket. 2. Some bored cop tagged me with another ticket. 3. Someone had slipped the ticket under my windshield wiper like a blade slipped under a rib. 4. A citation for violation of parking regulations had been affixed to my car. 5. I got another ticket! 6. Another week goes by, another parking ticket stuck to the carwhat else is new?
Tone The expressions in the previous slide create different emotional and conceptual positions relative to the ticketing experience. In other words, the language style of each expression adds its unique spin to the basic information.
Tone You will see in the Post Test that the last line of Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," has an ironic spin that emerges when we learn that "the doctors said she died of heart disease, of joy that kills."
Part I. Read the selection: The Story of an Hour* Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband's death. It was her sister Josephine who told her, in broken sentences; veiled hints that revealed in half concealing. Her husband's friend Richards was there, too, near her. It was he who had been in the newspaper office when intelligence of the railroad disaster was received, with Brently Mallard's name leading the list of killed. He had only taken the time to assure himself of its truth by a second telegram, and had hastened to forestall any less careful, less tender friend in bearing the sad message.
She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister's arms. When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her. There stood, facing the open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair. Into this she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul.
She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air. In the street below a peddler was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves. There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window.
She sat with her head thrown back upon the cushion of the chair, quite motionless, except when a sob came up into her throat and shook her, as a child who has cried itself to sleep continues to sob in its dreams. She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength. But now there was a dull stare in her eyes, whose gaze was fixed away off yonder on one of those patches of blue sky. It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought.
There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air. Now her bosom rose and fell tumultuously. She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her willas powerless as her two white slender hands would have been.
When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: free, free, free! The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body. She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her. A clear and exalted perception enabled her to dismiss the suggestion as trivial.
She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome. There would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow–creature. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination. And yet she had loved himsometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter! What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in face of this possession of self–assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being! Free! Body and soul free! she kept whispering.
Josephine was kneeling before the closed door with her lips to the keyhole, imploring for admission. Louise, open the door! I beg; open the dooryou will make yourself ill. What are you doing, Louise? For heaven's sake open the door. Go away. I am not making myself ill. No; she was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window. Her fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her. Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own. She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long. She arose at length and opened the door to her sister's importunities. There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory. She clasped her sister's waist, and together they descended the stairs. Richards stood waiting for them at the bottom.
*Reference Arp, T. R. (1998). Perrines Story and Structure. Forth Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers. Some one was opening the front door with a latchkey. It was Brently Mallard who entered, a little travel– stained, composedly carrying his gripsack and umbrella. He had been far from the scene of accident, and did not even know there had been one. He stood amazed at Josephine's piercing cry; at Richards' quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife. But Richards was too late. When the doctors came, they said she had died of heart diseaseof joy that kills.
Part II. Select the correct answer. 1. The most obvious element of fiction in the story is_____. a.symbolism b.theme c.irony 2. The kind of irony in the story is______. a.verbal b.of situation c.dramatic 3. The tone of the story when breaking of the news to Mrs. Mallard is ______. a.optimistic b.sad c.confusing 4. The tone of the story after breaking of the news to Mrs. Mallard is ______. a.optimistic b.confusing c.sad
5. One theme in the story is that a.news of death are always sad. b.sisters are the ones who always break in the bad news. c.death can be a liberating experience for some people. 6. We see the symbolism in the story through _______. a. an action b. a name c. an object 7. Mrs. Mallards enormous feeling of liberation after her husbands death is an example of a. irony b.symbolism c.tone 8. Mrs. Mallards sudden death is an example of________. a. tone b.symbolism c.irony
9. She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister's arms. [… ] trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The sentence and the fragment above are examples of a. style b. theme c. symbolism 10. By Mrs. Mallards reaction to the news, we can conclude that ____ a. she had a happy life with her husband. b. she was in desperate need of liberating from her husband but could not. c. she had had no time to admire nature before.
Answer Key to the Post Test 1.C 2.B 3.B 4.A 5.C 6.A 7.B 8.C 9.A 10.B Best Wishes of Success for You!
Post-Test Assessment 12 or 11ExcellentYou master the elements of fiction in this module. Congratulations! 10 or 9Very Good Review the elements of fiction and work the Post Test again. 8 or 7You need practice Study the elements of fiction presented in this module; do the assessment exercises and then go to the Post Test. 6 or lessYou need to study the module again Study the complete module again. If you still have questions about the content of the module talk to your professor or to the English Lab technicians. You did it!
Brief Analysis of The Story of an Hour I have included a short analysis of the story in terms of the some of the elements of fiction in this module to enhance your comprehension of the selection. Irony The way Louise handles the tragic news is ironic, because the reader expects her to react in an entirely different way. And to top it off, ironic-wise, Louise is the person that dies in the end. This kind of irony is dramatic irony.
The way the positive images associated with the window contrast the flow of the story. There stood, facing the open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair. Into this she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul. She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air. In the street below a peddler was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves. There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window. Example of Irony in The Story of an Hour
Themes in The Story of an Hour Identity and Selfhood Chopin deals with the issues of female self- discovery and identity in "The Story of an Hour." After Mrs. Mallard learns of her husband's death, she is initially overcome with grief. But quickly she begins to feel a previously unknown sense of freedom and relief.
Text to illustrate the Themes At first, she is frightened of her own awakening: "There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully." Her own feelings come upon her, possessing her. When she first utters the words "free, free, free!" she is described as having "abandoned herself." But after she speaks these words, she relaxes and gains more control over herself. As she imagines life without her husband, she embraces visions of the future. She realizes that whether or not she had loved him was less important than "this possession of self-assertion" she now feels. The happiness Louise gains by this recognition of selfhood is so strong that, when she realizes that her husband is alive, it is she who cannot resist the news and dies.
Style in The Story of an Hour Her style of writing is gripping, mesmerizing, fascinating and she describes the characters and the scenery thoroughly well throughout the story.
Tone in The Story of an Hour When Mrs. Mallards sister gave her the news of her husbands death, the tone in the story is sad, disturbing like it would be in a similar real-life situation. It was her sister who had, with broken sentences, slowly told her that he had died. When Mrs. Mallard locks herself in her bedroom, the tone is full of optimism: free, free, she thought. By now, you must have a clearer vision of theme, symbolism, tone, and irony as elements of fiction. Success!
Feedback Keep in mind, the better you gain knowledge of the elements of fiction, the better you will analyze a fictional account and therefore, understand and enjoy it.