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Published byDwight Gilmore Modified over 7 years ago
How to Study a Short Story QUESTIONS TO ASK WHILE STUDYING
Questions About Setting Does the story have a clear setting or not? Does the narrator describe the setting or does the reader have to figure it out? Is the setting just a background, or is it an important element in the story? Are any characters in conflict with the environment? How does the setting affect the story’s plot? Does it make the characters act in a certain way? In what time period does the story take place? How can you tell? What are social, political, or economic situations or events of the historical period that affect the story? In what geographical location is the story set? Is this location important to the story? At what time of day is the story set? Is time important to the story? What role do weather conditions play in the story?
Questions About Setting What kind of atmosphere or mood does the setting create? How does the setting affect the characters? Does it reflect or affect their emotional state? Does the atmosphere or mood of the story change as the story develops? Is this change important?
Questions About Character Who is the story’s protagonist? What is the story’s central conflict? What other conflicts are presented? Who (or what) serves as the antagonist? Who are the minor (small) characters? What role do they play in the story? How would the story be different without them? How does the protagonist look like? Is the way he or she looks important? What are the protagonist’s personality traits( What do you know his or her personality)? What is the protagonist’s likes and dislikes? Their strength and weaknesses? What are the feelings and beliefs of the protagonist? What does the narrator tells us about the protagonist’s former life and experiences? What does that tell us about the protagonist that we don’t already know?
Questions About Character Are the characters round or flat? Dynamic or static? Does the story have any stock characters? Does any character serve as a foil? Do the character’s act in a way that we as readers expect them to act? Which character to you feel the most sympathy with? Which character do you feel less sympathy with? Why?
Questions About the Narrator Who is telling the story? Is the narrator a character in the story? Is he or she a main character, a minor character, or just a passerby? Does the way the story is told create irony? If the story has a third-person narrator, is the narrator reliable or unreliable? If the story has a third-person narrator, is he or she omniscient? Does he or she have limited omniscience? Is the narrator objective? What are the advantages of the story’s point of view? What are the disadvantages? Does the narrator stay the same throughout the story, or does the narrator change? How might a different point of view (a different way to tell the story), change the story?
Questions About Plot What happens in the story? What is the exposition (beginning) of the story and where does it end? What do you learn about the character in this section? What do you learn about the setting? What possible conflicts are suggested? What is the story’s climax? How is the story’s central conflict resolved? Is this resolution convincing? Is it satisfying? Which part of the story is the resolution? Do any problems remain unsolved? Is the ending of the story not clear, and if so does that weaken or strengthen the story? Would another ending for the story be better? How are the events of the story arranged? Are they presented in chronological order? Does the story use foreshadowing? Flashbacks?
Questions About Theme What is the main theme of the story? What other themes does the story have? Does the title of the story give us a hint about the theme? Does the narrator, or any character, say anything that has to do with the theme of the story? In what way does the arrangement of events in the story suggest a theme? In what way does the central conflict of the story suggest a theme? How does the way the story is told gives us clues to the theme? Do any symbols suggest a theme? Do any characters in the story go through a big change in the story? Do these changes have a theme?
Questions About Irony Does anything the narrator or any of the characters say have an opposite meaning than that said? Is there a point in the plot where what happens is different than what we as readers expect? Where in the story does this happen? Is there something in the story that the narrator and the readers know, but a character or more doesn’t? Does the setting of the story contribute to the story’s irony? What are the instances of irony in the story? What type is it, situational, dramatic, verbal? What affect does the writer’s use of irony have on the story?
Questions About Style Does the writer make an unusual or uncommon use of words, word order, or sentence structure? What is the story’s tone? Is it friendly, casual, matter-of-fact, distant, bitter, angry, sad, happy? How does the tone of the story help the writer with the theme of the story? Does the style of the story use a lot of repetition? What does that add to the story? Is the word choice formal (serious) or informal (casual) or somewhere in between? Is there a difference between the narrator’s language and the character’s speech? What affect does that difference have on the story? What does each characters word choice tell us about them?
Questions About Style What are the images used most in the story? Where and why is this imagery used? Does the story have a pattern of images? How does this pattern of images help in understanding the story’s theme? Does the story use simile and metaphor? Personification? What affect do these figures of speech have on the story? Do figures of speech add more meaning to the story? Do they give more meaning to the theme? Do they tell us something about the characters?
Questions About Symbols, Allegory and Myths. Are there any universal symbols used in the story? Any conventional symbols? What is their purpose in the story? Is any character, place, action, event or object given any special attention in the story? Does this thing seem more meaning that it does on the page? What are the meanings of each symbol in the story? How do some symbols in the story help tell us about the character or characters? How do the story’s symbols affect the story’s setting? How do the story’s symbols help with the plot? Does the story have a moral or religious theme? What is that theme? Does the story have double meanings? S it an allegory? What does each character stand for in the allegory? Does the story have any allusions to myths? If so, how do these allusions affect the story’s plot or theme?
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