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Purpose This modules aim is helping you to improve your identification and comprehension of the elements of fiction present in simple texts studied in your GEEN 1102, English as a Second Language II or in any other reading course. By identifying those elements and by understanding how they work, you prepare yourself to read closely and interpret well"
Introduction Before introducing you to the elements of fiction, let me begin by explaining what fiction is. A fictional story is a sequence of events created by the author's imagination. Fiction writers use definite elements such as character, setting, and plot to weave or put together a good story, as well as to provide the artistic quality of their craft or expertise.
To effectively interpret a good story, it is important to know these elements. Questions you may have include: Introduction What are the various elements of fiction? What is the definition of each element? Why are these elements important? When analyzing fiction, one job is to decide which elements are most interesting to talk about in any story you decide or are assigned to interpret.
General Objective After studying this module, you will be able to analyze a given story through the elements of fiction.
Specific Objectives By the end of this module, you will 1.describe the setting and the mood of a story. 2.identify the types of characters. 3. differentiate between major and minor events to diagram the plot. 4.distinguish among the different types of point of view.
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 quiet 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 win dows 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 chil dren 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 radians orange fish. clown fish
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. "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. "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.
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. & Vallejo, R. (1999). Stories for the Mind and Soul. Mexico: International Thomson Editors.
Part II. Select the correct answer. 1.The story The Caribbean Pearl takes place in a a. small town in Vieques. b. small town with curvy roads in the mountains of Puerto Rico. c. small eastern coastal town called Naguabo in Puerto Rico. 2. The towns roads are shaded by a. thick trees. b. clown fish. c. small kioskos. 3. The protagonist of the story is a a. castle. b. nine-year-old boy. c. a sad clown fish. 4. A secondary character in the story is a. Sal. b. Samuel. c. the sad clown fish.
5. In this story, the characters are presented a. directly by the author. b. indirectly or acting. c. as ghosts. 6. The mood in the story a. is extremely sarcastic. b. provokes to take some action. c. seems very funny. 7. Which event from the story is part of the rising action? a. Sal and Samuel go out to fish. b. Samuel asks his father about the castle. c. Samuel says that one day he will go into the castle. 8. After listening to the fishs request, Samuel ran back home because he a. was scared. b. wanted everyone to do something. c. knew he was late to school.
9. Which event from the story could be identified as its climax? a. Samuel rushes back to his house to get ready for school. b. Samuel rushes back home to eat breakfast. c. Samuel rushes back to tell everyone and have them do something to save the Island. 10. The author does not give a solution to the problem in the story. This means that the resolution of the plot is a. left open to each readers imagination. b. not clear to the readers. c. part of a second story.
11. The narrator of the story has _______ knowledge about his characters ideas and feelings. a. partial. b. no. c. complete. 12. The point of view of the story is a. omniscient. b. objective. c. limited omniscient.
Pre-Test Answer Key 1. C 2. A 3. B 4. C 5. A 6. B 7. C 8. B 9. C 10. A 11. C 12. A
Pre-Test Assessment 12 or 11ExcellentGo to the Post Test. 10 or 9Very GoodReview the incorrect answers and go to the Post Test. 8 or 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 hope you have been successful!
Elements of Fiction Plot, Setting, Character, Conflict, Symbol, and Point of View are the main elements which fiction writers use to develop a story and its Theme. In this module you will learn about the setting, characters and characterization, plot, and point of view.
#1 Setting Setting refers to: the environment the physical place and time, in which the story takes place.
Setting In a setting, the atmosphere and local color are described. An example of the atmosphere of a setting would be describing the setting as comfortable. An example of giving the local color of the setting would be by naming certain objects and characters.
Mood The mood or the feelings communicated by the setting is usually established by description.
# 2 Characters and Characterization Characters The characters are the people that are in the story. Characterization Characterization is the process by which a writer makes that character seem real to the reader.
Characters There is a variety of possible characters that you may find in a fictional story. A hero or heroine, often called the protagonist, is the central character who engages the readers interest and empathy.
Characters The antagonist is the character, force, or collection of forces that stands directly opposed to the protagonist and gives rise to the conflict of the story.
Characters A static character is a person who does not change throughout the work, and the readers knowledge of that character does not grow.
Characters A dynamic character is a person who undergoes some kind of change because of the action in the plot.
Characters A flat character embodies one or two qualities, ideas, or traits that can be readily described in a brief summary. This is not a psychologically complex character and therefore is readily accessible to readers.
Characters Some flat characters are recognized as stock characters. They represent stereotypes such as the "dumb blonde, the mad scientist, or the "mean stepfather.
Characters Round characters are characters who are more complex than flat or stock characters. They often display the inconsistencies and internal conflicts found in most real people. They are more fully developed, and therefore are harder to summarize.
Characters Methods of Characterization Authors present their characters either directly or indirectly. This is called their method of characterization. Direct presentation occurs when the author intervenes to describe and sometimes evaluate the character for the reader.
Characters Indirect Presentation occurs when the authors show us the characters in action. We infer what they are like from what they think or say or do.
Characters Motivated Action Characters can be convincing whether they are presented by showing or by telling, as long as their actions are motivated. Motivated action by the characters occurs when the reader or audience is offered reasons for how the characters behave, what they say, and the decisions they make.
Characters Plausible action is action by a character in a story that seems reasonable, given the motivations presented.
# 3 Plot Plot is the sequence of incidents or events of which a story is composed, presented in a significant order. It bears about the same relationship to a story that a map does to a trip. It may include what characters say, think or do, but it leaves out description and analysis. It concentrates on major happenings.
Plot Stories that are written in a pyramidal pattern divide the plot into three essential parts. The first part of the plot is the rising action, in which complication creates some sort of conflict for the protagonist.
Plot The second part is the climax, the moment of greatest emotional tension in a narrative, usually marking a turning point in the plot at which the rising action reverses to become the falling action.
Plot The third part, the falling action (or resolution) is characterized by diminishing tensions and the resolution of the plots conflicts and complications.
Pyramidal Plot in Summary Rising Action: The part of a story which begins with the exposition and sets the stage for the climax. A conflict often develops between the protagonist and an antagonist. Climax: The climax is the result of the crisis. It is the high point of the story for the reader. Frequently, it is the moment of the highest interest and greatest emotion. It is the point at which the outcome of the conflict can be predicted. Falling Action: The falling action is the series of events which take place after the climax; it is where the protagonist must react to the changes that occur during the climax of the story. Resolution (Denouement): The part of a story which occurs after the climax and which establishes a new norm, a new state of affairs-the way things are going to be from then on. The author often ties up the loose ends of the story to have the plot reach a conclusion.
Diagram of Pyramidal Plot Plot
Elements of Plot The plot of a fictional story has its own elements. Exposition: The introductory material which gives the setting, creates the tone, presents the characters, and presents other facts necessary to understanding the story. Foreshadowing: The use of hints or clues to suggest what will happen later in the story.
Elements of Plot Inciting Incident: The act or action that sets the story and conflict in motion. Conflict: The essence of fiction. It creates plot. The conflicts we encounter can usually be identified as one of four kinds. (Man versus…Man, Nature, Society, or Self)
Elements of Plot Crisis: The conflict reaches a turning point. At this point the opposing forces in the story meet and the conflict becomes most intense. The crisis occurs before or at the same time as the climax. The rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution, previously discussed are also elements of the plot.
# 4 Point of View Point of view in fiction refers to the source and scope of the narrative voice. In other words, it answers the question: who tells the story?
Point of View Every story is told by a narrator, who is created by the author and usually different from the author's voice. The narrator controls the story by talking from a particular point of view.
Point of View Points of view have traditionally been classified as first person, third-person omniscient, third person limited omniscient, and objective.
Point of View In the first-person point of view, usually identifiable by the use of the pronoun "I," a character in the story does the narration. A first-person narrator may be a major character and is often its protagonist. A first-person narrator may also be a minor character, someone within the story but not centrally involved
Point of View The author's choice of point of view has a significant effect on the story's voice and on the type of information given to the reader. In first-person narration, for example, what can be shown is limited to the character's observation and thoughts.
Example of First Person Point of View I have been afraid of putting air in a tire ever since I saw a tractor tire blow up and throw Newt Hardbines father over the top of the Standard Oil sign. Im not lying. He got stuck up there. About nineteen people congregated during the time it took for Norman Strick to walk up to the Courthouse and blow the whistle for the volunteer fire department. The Bean Trees - Barbara Kingsolver Point of View
The third-person point of view occurs when the narrator does not take part in the story. There are three types of third-person point of view: omniscient, limited omniscient, and objective.
Point of View In third-person omniscient point of view, the story is told by a narrator whose knowledge and prerogatives are unlimited. The narrative voice can provide information from anywhere, including the thoughts and feelings of any of the characters. This all-knowing (god-like) perspective allows the narrator to wander freely in the story's setting and even beyond.
Point of View Example of Omniscient Point of View The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon. Though he had taken off his school sweater and trailed it now from one hand, his grey shirt stuck to him and his hair was plastered to his forehead. All around him the long scar smashed into the jungle was a bath of heat. The Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Point of View In third-person limited point of view, the story is told in third person but from the viewpoint of one character in the story. This is also called the point-of-view character. Such point of view is filtered through whose eyes and minds writers look at the events.
Point of View In third-person limited point of view, authors tell us what this character sees, hears, thinks and feels. The authors know everything about the character but the reader is limited to this characters perceptions. the chose character may be a major or minor character, a participant or an observer.
Point of View Example of Limited Omniscient Point of View In his black suit he stood in the dark glass where the lilies leaned so palely from their wasted cut glass vase. He looked down at the guttered candle stub. He pressed his thumbprint in the warm wax pooled on the oak veneer. Lastly, he looked at the face so caved and drawn among the folds of funeral cloth, the yellowed moustache, the eyelids paper thin. That was not sleeping. That was not sleeping. All the Pretty Horses - Cormac McCarthy
Point of View In third-person objective, the narrator provides explicit, observable details and does not have access to the internal thoughts of characters or background information about the setting or situation. A character's thoughts, for example, are inferred only by what is expressed openly, in actions or in words. This point of view is also known as third-person dramatic because it is generally the way drama is developed.
Part I. Read the story. The Camuy Caves** Terry Mezo Puerto Rico is a miniature paradise. It is an island of great tourist attractions. Many beautiful beaches surround it. On the north, we have the Atlantic Ocean and on the south, the Caribbean Sea. A majestic chain of mountains runs through the very center of the island, beginning on the east and crossing all the way to the west. The sun can be extremely hot but a tropical breeze can always be felt under the palm trees. Many restaurants serve divine typical meals. The island has important historical landmarks that reveal its Spanish heritage-places such as El Morro, and the San Sebastian Castle. The Indian Park located in Utuado is representative of the indigenous Taino culture. There is also great geological wealth. This can be especially appreciated in the Camuy River Cave Systems which are among its most important ecological systems. There are caves around this region that extend to the towns of Lares and Hatillo where small caves can be found too. They are a major tourist attraction on the island.
Norman Veve, man of vast attributes as dedicated a great deal of his life to investigating the natural riches of Puerto Rico. He is the precursor of the Speleology Association on the island. Exploring caves and studying their formation has been his hobby for many years. Thalia, his beautiful and timid daughter inherited the same interests. She was not very tall. Her complexion was soft and of a light caramel tone. Her eyes projected a sweetness that, along with her humble smile, you could never forget. She shared so many of her father's hobbies that they became very close. More than a father and daughter, they were best friends. His other children enjoyed nature too, but Thalia was devoted to nature and exploring as much as her father was. Every weekend he and his children, Thalia, Tania, and Ivan, in addition to a crew of friends brought together by the same interests and curiosity, would head for the mountains located in different towns of the small island to explore its caves. It is known that locals had already discovered some of the caves, but it was Norman who was among the first to truly explore them. Thalia designed and developed the first maps for these caves and for their subterranean water systems. Norman and Thalia shared a passion for the mysteries hidden in these caves, and looked forward to the challenges they might encounter in them.
On a Saturday morning during the month of June, the usual expedition crew gathered to continue tracing the underwater currents running through the Camuy Caves. They headed out to the Enchanted Cave, which is one of the largest in the system. Norman's friend, Nestor, showed up with his girlfriend. He had missed several of the previous expeditions, but he did not wan no miss this one. Everyone was well equipped, carrying backpacks, helmets, water, ropes, flashlights, canned food, and diving gear as well as cameras and lighting equipment for photography. Thalia, with her note pad and her measuring device ready for jotting down descriptive details to help her draw her maps, carefully followed the crew. They were so heavily equipped and excited one would have thought they were headed for the moon.
They began their hike. From the main road to the cave it was about a two or three hour walk. At the entrance of this cave, Norman said, "Hey, guys. We're gonna have to cross this deep underground river to surface on the other side of the cave." The water was so clear and cold. They rapidly put on their scuba diving equipment and began to dive in. They followed each other slowly, using their water flashlights to avoid getting lost. Thalia was appreciating the beauty of the blind albino fish that live in total darkness and have no sight. They all made it safe and sound to the other side. The area they reached was totally dark. Because the sun's rays couldn't be felt and the temperature had been steadily dropping, some of the crew members were shivering. Once they had set up the lighting system, they all looked up at the same time and were mesmerized by the gigantic stalactites, which looked like enormous popsicles hanging from the top. They were also surrounded by stalagmites that seemed to be melting into the floor. Thalia recognized the strong odor of guano and said, "Dad, I smell bat droppings in here. That means there is another way into the cave because we know bats can't swim."
"You're right," Norman replied. "Let's find that entrance." After a few hours in the cave, they found a smaller cave with its own lake running through it. It was impressive. Nestor said, "Let's baptize this cave after you. Norman's Cave it shall be officially called." They were having a good time and hours passed unnoticed. The silence and the calm water made them feel as if they were in another world where there was no sense of time. But before they knew it, it was 5:00 p.m. Norman's eyes were fixed on the water when suddenly he realized that the water level was rising. "Crew, we must get out of here immediately! Now! Move it! We can't exit the cave now, so run to the highest points. It seems a flash flood is coming down. If it is pouring outside, the water levels in here could rise extremely high. Our lives are in danger!"
The crew divided into two groups, but everyone was holding on to one rope just in case the strong water currents pulled them apart. "Stay where you are," Norman repeated to the crew. "Don't try... Don't try to cross over because if the current runs wild it will catch you halfway. We're in danger anyway, but stay put." Nestor started getting anxious because his girlfriend was with the other group. When Norman glanced over he had already started to cross. "Go back! Go back!" Norman yelled. When Norman looked again, tons of water were coming down. Nestor was carried away by the furious waters. The others all stood there in mute shock! The currents were flowing for about two hours. Then the water level went back down. They were speechless, crying, and confused. On their way back, they searched for Nestor but had no luck. They only found his helmet.
** Reference Mezo, T. & Vallejo, R. (1999). Stories for the Mind and Soul. Mexico: International Thomson Editors. Two weeks had passed and the group had not met. One day Norman, their leader, called a meeting for 7:00 p.m. They would meet at the usual place. Norman was preparing to deliver his message. He stood there silently for ten seconds, and then said, "I know we all miss Nestor a lot. I know... I do. He was a very special person, one who admired nature and its mysteries. There are so many natural wonders in this world, wonders that we would like to know more about... wonders that trigger our curiosity, wonders that open doors to the most exhilarating creations of nature. We can explore, we can do limitless things, but we must never forget that nature is unpredictable and we can't go against it, or manipulate it. Nature is stronger than all of us together. It is full of unexpected surprises and sometimes rebels against man. Everything we do in life-whether it's cycling, racing, swimming, scuba diving, boating, camping- everything has its dangers!" He paused, and then added, "but...life goes on...doesn't it?" Today, because of these remarkable explorations led by Norman, Thalia and the crew, the government not only preserves the Camuy Caves, but has transformed them into an important educational ecological attraction.
Part II. Select the correct answer. 1. The story takes place _____ in Puerto Rico. a.at the beach b.in a cave system c.in the mountains 2. The author establishes the setting of the story by describing __________. a.the characters abilities b.the time of the day c.The physical place, the time, and the environment around the events 3. The author used the _______ method of characterization to introduce the characters. a. direct b. indirect c.holistic 4. The protagonist of the story is_______. a.Nestor b.the river c.Norman
5. The mood in this story is of ____________. a. the beauty of nature b. admiration and respect for nature c.natural elements 6. The actions taken by Norman are __________. a. ironic b. fantastic c.plausible 7. The exposition part of the plot is marked by ____ of the story. a. the first paragraph b.first two paragraphs c.the last paragraph 8. The inciting incident or event that sets the conflict in motion is ____________. a. the rising level of the rivers water b. Nestor's drowning c. when Norman told the crew that they had cross the deep underground river to surface on the other side of the cave
9. The event that marked the climax in the story is ____________. a. the rising of the rivers water b. Nestor's drowning c. Normans shouting to the crew 10. The story is told by ____________ narrator. a. an objective b. a limited omniscient c. an omniscient 11. Which of the sentences illustrates the storys narrator? a. You are right Norman replied. b. Once they had set up the lighting system, they all looked up at the same time and were mesmerized by the gigantic stalactites, which looked like enormous popsicles hanging from the top. c. Nestor was carried away by the furious waters. 12. The conflict in this story is ____________. a. man vs. environment b. man vs. himself c. man vs. man
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!
Feedback Remember, the better you learn the elements of fiction, the better you will analyze a fictional account and therefore, understand and enjoy it.