Notes adopted from Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama and A Short Guide to Writing About Literature Fiction: A name for stories not entirely factual, but at least partially shaped, made up, or imagined. Stories can be based on factual material (I.e., the historical novel) but the factual information is of secondary importance.
Ex: Gone with the Wind. Types of Fiction:
Fable: A brief story that sets forth some pointed statement of truth. Most fables involve animals endowed with human traits of character and consciousness but do at times involve astronomical bodies and natural physical forces with character traits as in “The North Wind and the Sun.” A fable customarily ends by explicitly stating its moral.
Ex: “The North Wind and the Sun” (5-6)
Parable: A brief narrative that teaches a moral, but unlike a fable, its plot is plausibly realistic, and the main characters are human. The morals of parables are also implied instead of explicitly stated.
Ex: “The Parable of the Good Samaritan”
Tale: A story, usually short, that sets forth strange and wonderful events in more or less bare summary, without detailed character drawing. Two variations of tales are fairy tales (“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”) or tall tales (“Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox”). Ex: “Godfather Death” (8-10)
Short Story: A prose narrative too brief to be published in a separate volume–as novellas and novels frequently are. The short story is usually a focused narrative that presents one or two main characters involved in a single compelling action.
Ex: “A&P” (14-9)
Novella: In modern terms, a prose narrative longer than a short story but shorter than a novel (approximately 30,000 to 50,000 words). A novella is long enough to be published independently as a brief book. Ex: Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness; Susanna Rowson’s Charlotte Temple Novel: An extended work of fictional prose narrative. Because of its extended length, a novel usually has more characters, more varied scenes, and a broader coverage of time than a short story.
Ex: The Great Gatsby
Elements of Fiction:
Plot: The particular arrangement of actions, events, and situations that unfold in a narrative. A plot is not merely the general story in a narrative but the author’s artistic pattern made from the parts of narrative including the exposition, rising and falling actions, climax, and denouement. One way to look at the organization of the happenings in many works of fiction is to see the plot as a pyramid or triangle.
2. Rising Action 4. Falling Action
1. Exposition5. Denouement
1. Exposition: The opening portion that sets the scene (if any), introduces the main characters, tells us what happened before the story opened, and provides any background information we need in order to understand and care about the events that follow. Usually introduced to protagonist (Central character who usually initiates the main action of the story) and antagonist (a character or foe that opposes the antagonist) 2. Rising Action: The early happenings, with their increasing tension. Often characterized by suspense (enjoyable anxiety created in the reader by the author’s handling of plot) and foreshadowing (suggestions of what is to come later in the story).
3. Climax: The rising action culminates in a moment of high tension or crisis–signals a turning point in narrative. (the word climax comes from the Greek word meaning “ladder”) 4. Falling Action: What follows the climax or decisive moment and leads to the conclusion or denouement. 5. Denouement: A conclusion or resolution that the reader takes to be final. Point of View: Refers to the speaker, narrator, persona, or voice created by authors to tell stories, present arguments, and express attitudes and judgments.
Types of points of view:
Participating First Person Narrator (I, me, my, and [sometimes] we, our, and us)
A. A major character—may be protagonist as is Huck in Huck Finn
B. A minor character—may be an observer, watching a story unfold that
involves someone else Nonparticipating Third Person Narrator (she, he, it, they)
A. All-knowing or total omniscient—the narrator sees into the minds of all or some characters, moving when necessary from one to another.
B. Editorial omniscient—the narrator knows the feelings of the characters, but adds an occasional comment or opinion about the characters.
Ex: “Godfather Death”
C. Impartial omniscient—Narrator present s the thoughts and actions of the characters, but does not judge them or comment on them.
D. Limited or selective omniscient—the narrator sees through the eyes of a single character—who may be either a major or minor character.
Other characterizations of narrators:
A. Innocent narrator or naïve narrator—usually a character who fails to understand all the implications of the story. Ex: Huck Finn—Huck accepts without question the morality and lawfulness of slavery; he feels guilty for helping Jim, a runaway slave. But far from condemning Huck for his defiance of the law—“All right, then, I’ll go to Hell,” Huck tells himself, deciding against returning Jim to captivity—the author, and the reader, silently applaud.
B. Unreliable narrator—the point of view is from a person who, we perceive, is deceptive, self-deceptive, deluded, or deranged.
Character: The verbal representation of a human being—through action, speech, description, and commentary, authors portray characters who are worth caring about, rooting for, and even loving, although there are also characters you may laugh at, dislike, or even hate.
A. Types of characters:
1. Round characters—authors present enough detail about them to render them, full, lifelike, and memorable. They are dynamic meaning they recognize, change with, or adjust to circumstances.
Types of round characters:
1. Hero or heroine
2. Protagonist (the “first actor”)—central to the action and moves against the antagonist.
3. Antagonist (the “opposing actor”)—a character or force that opposes the protagonist.
2. Flat characters—characters that do not grow but remain the same because they are stupid or insensitive or because they lack the knowledge or insight. They end where they begin and thus are static, not dynamic.
Types of flat characters:
1. Stock characters—flat characters in standard roles with standard traits. They are representative of their class or group. They stay flat as long as they do no more than perform their roles and exhibit conventional and unindividual traits. When they possess no attitudes except those of their class, they are called stereotype characters because they all seem to have been cast in the same mold.
C. Versimilitude, Probablity, and Reality: Characters in fiction should be true to life. Therefore, their actions, statements, and thoughts must all be what human beings are likely to do, say, and think under the questions presented in the literary work. Setting: Setting is a work’s natural, manufactured, political, cultural, and temporal environment, including everything that characters know and own.
A. Three Basic Types of Setting:
a. Nature and the Outdoors
b. Objects of Manufacture and Construction (Ex: Houses, both interiors and exteriors, park benches, necklaces
c. Cultural conditions and assumptions (Ex: The cultural setting of an isolated island off the coast of Georgia would be different from the cultural setting of Atlanta.
B. The Importance of Setting to a Narrative
a. A credible setting establishes literary credibility. One of the major purposes of literary setting is to establish realism or verisimilitude.
b. Setting may be a strong guide to character
c. Authors may use setting as an organizing element.
i. An author may use setting to organize the work geographically.
1. Ex: The protagonist may move from an expensive condo in downtown New York City to a cheap apartment on Long Island. This move suggests not only the economic decline of the protagonist but the social decline as well.
ii. Another organizational application of place, time, and object is the framing or enclosing setting, whereby a work begins and ends with descriptions of the same scene, thus forming a frame or an enclosure. (Ex: O Brother, Where Art Thou?)
d. Setting may serve as literary symbols.
e. Setting may be used to establish a work’s atmosphere.
i. Setting helps to create an atmosphere or mood, which refers to an enveloping or permeating emotional texture within a work.
1. Ex: Descriptions of bright colors (red, orange, yellow) may contribute to a mood of happiness. The contrast of such bright colors with darkness and dark colors may invoke gloom or augment hysteria. Tone: Similar to tone in poetry, tone in fiction is the author’s attitude toward the subject being discussed. The author’s choice of diction (choice of words), details, characters, events, and situations lead us to infer his or her attitude.
A. Irony: When an author says one thing but means quite the opposite.
a. Verbal Irony: Most familiar form of irony—we understand the speaker’s meaning to be far from the usual meaning of the words. Ex: “Oh, sure, I just love to have four papers fall due on the same day.” Often verbal irony is in the form of sarcasm—sour statements tinged with mockery.
b. Irony of Fate or Cosmic Irony: Suggestion that some malicious fate (or other spirit in the universe) is deliberately frustrating human efforts. Theme: Like other forms of literature, theme in fiction simply refers to whatever general idea or insight the entire story reveals.
A. The following questions can help you determine theme(s) in a narrative and organize those themes into statements:
a. Look back at the title of the story. From what you’ve read, what does it indicate?
b. Does the main character in any way change in the story? Does this character arrive at any eventual realization or understanding? Are you left with any realization or understanding you did not have before?
c. Does the author make any general observations about life or human nature? Do the characters make any? (Caution: Characters now and again will utter opinions with which the reader is not necessarily supposed to agree.)
d. Does the story contain any especially curious objects, any flat characters, significant animals, repeated names, song titles, or whatever that hint toward larger meanings than such things usually have? In literary stories, such symbols may point to central themes.
e. When you have worded your statement of theme, have you cast into general language, not just given a plot summary?
f. Does your statement hold true for the story as a whole? Symbol: In literature, a person, place or thing that suggests meanings beyond its literal sense. Symbols usually contain multiple meanings and associations.
a. In Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, the great white whale is more than a literal dictionary-definition meaning of an aquatic mammal. The great white whale, as the story unfolds, comes to imply an amplitude of meanings: among them the forces of nature and the whole created universe.
b. Also in “A Rose for Emily,” Miss Emily’s invisible watch ticking at the end of a golden chain not only indicates the passage of time, but suggests that time passes without even being noticed by the watch’s owner, and the golden chain carries suggestions of wealth and authority.
B. Symbolic Act: A gesture with larger significance than usual.
a. Ex: For the boy’s father in “Barn Burning,” the act of destroying a barn is no mere act of spite, but an expression of his profound hatred for anything not belonging to him.
Character Analysis on the Conflicts and Themes of Godfather Death Summary, Characters, Conflict and Themes of “Godfather Death”
1. Give a Brief summary of the work using specific names, detail, and examples.
In the story “Godfather Death” there is a father who has twelve children and then has another his thirteenth child, but he cannot afford this child. The father then decides to find the most suitable godfather for his thirteenth child. The father passes up the good lord and the devil his reasoning being that death is equal and does not discriminate between people. Death gives the child a gift for his baptism his gift is the ability to heal the sick as long as death is at their head if he was at their feet the person was to die.
The doctor soon became famous and was well known through the country. The doctor soon found out the king was ill and when he approached him Death was at his feet, so the doctor switched the king’s position so that Death was at the king’s head. Death was upset at the doctor’s actions and warned him not to do it again. Well, the doctor disobeyed Death once more and this time Death said he must pay. Death took him to his cavern which had candles lining the walls, on the way down the doctor asked what the candles where for and death replied that they are peoples lives. Death showed the doctor his candle and it was almost out, so he doctor tried to convince him to let him live but death tricked him and put his candle out.
2. List the names of the protagonist and major Characters and give a description of each using specific details in your discussion.
The major characters in the short story “Godfather Death” are the doctor and Death. The doctor is the son of a man who had twelve children before him and he is the thirteenth and the father cannot afford to keep him. The doctor’s father then tries to find the most suitable godfather for the child and he decides to give the child to death. Death is also a main character in the short story. Death is the godfather of the doctor; he is a slim man that has a bony appearance. The godfather is a very…