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Horror story Humour story Autobiography

УДК 802.0(075.8)

ББК 81.2 Ан


ã Минский государственный лингвистический университет, 2003


ã Е. Ю. Кирейчук, Т. Г. Васильева, 2003



To the Student………………………………………………………………….4


Unit 1: Story Types…………………………………………………………….5

Summary Making Rules. ……………………………..……………...11


Unit 2: Plot and Its Structure. ……………………………...............................15

J. Joyce Eveline ……………………………………………………….17


Unit 3: Setting. …………………………………..............................................23

R. Bradbury. The Smile …………………………………......................27


Unit 4: Forms of Presentation: Narration. …………………………………….34

T. Capote. A Lamp in a Window ……………………………………....38


Unit 5: Forms of Presentation: Description. ……………………………..........43

O. Wilde. Symphony in Yellow …………………………......................47


Unit 6: Forms of Presentation: Characterization; Dialogue. …………………..49

W. S. Maugham. The Happy Man ……………………………………52

J. Thurber. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty …………………………...57


Reading Independently. The Scheme of Story Analysis ……………………..64


Stories for Independent Reading

1. R. Bradbury. All Summer in a Day …………………………………66

2. J. Archer. Just Good Friends ………………………….....................73

3. J. Archer. The Luncheon ……………………………………………79

4. Gr. Greene. The Case for the Defence ……………………………...87

5. B. Malamud. My Son the Murderer ………………………………...91

6. P. Lively. Next Term, We’ll Mash You ……………………………..97

7. F. J. Hardy. The Returned Soldier …………………………………103

8. O. Henry. A Retrieved Reformation ……………………………….111

9. Saki. The Open Window ………………………………...................120

10. A. Maley. Gossip …………………………………………………..124

11. B. Brown. The Star Ducks …………………………………………128

12. F. Sargeson. They Gave Her a Rise ………………………………..137

13. M. Spark. You Should Have Seen the Mess …………......................141

14. M. Binchey. The Garden Party ……………...…………………….147

15. T. Pears. Blue ……………………………………………………....154







Reading will be a substantial component of students’ curriculum this year. This course will aid in dealing with the reading and interpretation of short stories by American and British writers and is aimed at the expansion of understanding of a short story beyond the literal and simple recollection of factual details. The majority of the activities in this course will concentrate on reading and analyzing the short story and its elements (the genre, the plot-structure, and the forms of presentation).

During the 1st term students are expected:

· to read 21 short stories by British and American authors;

· to accomplish 2 home tests (supposed to be done independently and checked with the attached keys);

· to do an entrance test and a final test.


This book covers the course of Reading and Appreciation of the Short Story and aims at teaching students to:

· approach a literary text, understand and appreciate it;

· operate with the major notions important for literary analysis such as plot, setting, forms of presentation, tone, title, symbolism;

· summarize, generalize and evaluate main points and implications of the text;

· comment on events and characters of a literary work, discovering the author’s ideas and the means of conveying them.


Part 1 of the book is divided into 6 units containing original and unabridged short stories, followed by sections of questions to help students to appreciate the text and organize discussions in class. The texts are preceded by a necessary minimum of information, which will allow the student to answer the After You Read questions and accomplish the Before You Read tasks. The tasks take a variety of formats and are meant for full class activities, group activities and individual work.

Part 1 also includes 15 short stories intended for students’ independent reading and appreciation. To facilitate the task, a scheme of analysis is suggested and each short story is followed by a set of questions which focus the reader’s attention on the most relevant and important issues of interpretation. The supplement to Part 1 contains 2 home tests provided with keys for self-control.


The course presupposes thorough and conscientious independent and class work on behalf of the student.

We hope that this course will encourage students to respond imaginatively to what they read, to build up their vocabulary. It will help to understand and enjoy reading English language literature and will give tools and methods for appreciating fiction students will read in the future.





Describing types of stories

Short stories can be set anywhere and at any time; they can involve all kinds of characters and cover a vast range of themes. Classification of all short stories into types would be an extremely difficult thing to do, particularly with the best short stories, whose subtlety and thematic interest make them unique. However, the definition of the type of a story (sometimes called genre) might be of some help in the task of bringing forth its central ideas and the author’s message.

Look at the various genres and answer the questions given below.


psychological story humour story (auto)biography science fiction fantasy horror story love story thriller western, crime story, parable romance adventure story detective story historical fiction fairy story spy story travelogue folk-tale tear-jerker whodunnit spine-chiller ghost story myth anecdote legend joke story with social significance


· Which of the above are usually oral: that is, people usually tell them to each other rather than write them down?

· Which of the genres above are similar in that they have the same kind of setting and same kind of characters?

· Can you think of some examples of the above genres by English writers and from your own culture?

· Which of these genres do you like? Which do you never read? Can you explain your preferences?



Exercise 1.

Here are 9 definitions of some popular story genres. Following them are passages explaining the definitions. Match up each definition with the appropriate description.


Historical fiction Spy thriller Romance

Science fiction Detective story Western

Horror story Humour story Autobiography

A. Similar to fairy tales and legends, these stories appeal to a reader’s romantic fantasies. In highly emotional, overblown language, they tell of love and adventure. Escapist in nature, such stories free readers from the concerns of everyday life, painting an idealized picture of human relationships.


B. This story genre presents fictitious characters interlinked with actual events and figures of history. Historical characters are portrayed speaking in first person as though an actual record exists of the event. Whatever their chronology, the characters of fiction of this type speak in the idiom of the author, not of their day.


C. This genre features the stories and mythology of the American frontier of the nineteenth century. Typical heroes are tough, self-reliant men with a love for the land. Native Americans are often an important presence in the story. Like its typical hero, its language is unadorned, with the dialogue often in dialect.


D. Stories of this type present a puzzle in the form of a mystery that must be solved. The main character (generally adetective) — and vicariously the reader — conduct a search for clues. Protagonists are presented as tough, honest individuals, ruthless but in pursuit of the social good. The language of “hard-boiled” fiction of this genre is streetwise and direct.


E. Derived from the detective story, the hero of this genre is a modern fantasy figure. Rebellious against authority or guilt-ridden from his deceptions, he symbolizes the amorality of modern society. Writers of thrillers of such kind go into great detail in their descriptions of procedures, events and tools of the trade, which is a very effective way of arresting and keeping up the reader’s interest.


F. The basic themes of this popular kind of imaginative literature include space travel, time travel and marvellous discoveries and inventions. Stories of this type may be set in the future or in the past; some are set in a far-away universe. Unlike fantasy, which deals with the impossible, this type of fiction describes events that could actually occur, according to accepted or possible theories. Popularity of the genre grew as developments in nuclear energy and space exploration showed that many of its predictions were more realistic than many people believed them to be.


G. This is a personal history, usually informal in style, in which the writer tells of persons known and things done sharing one’s own thoughts and emotions with the reader.


H. Such stories induce smiles or outright laughter. They may be gentle, silly, or sarcastic. In them, writers draw upon real concerns or contemporary issues, but through irony, exaggeration, and satire, they make the serious funny.


I. Melodramatic and containing mysterious and supernatural events, these stories aim at frightening their readers. Set in a gloomy, forbidding location, suspense is heightened by overblown descriptions, unaccountable sounds, darkness, and premonitions of death. Today this genre represents characters who fail to understand important clues and take on investigations that only get them into trouble — or worse.


Exercise 2.

Label the passages given below as to their story type. Give your reasoning.

a) Before I tell you anything about myself, I would like to tell you, or at least identify for you, the world into which I was born. My background. I mean of course my mother — my father. My two parents. Mother died when I was forty-odd. Dad died when I was fifty-odd. Thus I had them as my…Well, they were always, for over forty years — there. They were mine. (Katharine Hepburn, Me)


b) For a humorist I think a lot about death… My main concern about my death was that I would not make The New York Times obituary page. I was sure it would be just my luck that Charles de Gaulle would die on the same day and all the space would be taken up with tributes to him. The New York Times is the only institution which has the power to decide if you existed or not. You can spend eighty years on earth and if they don’t say anything about it when you pass away, your life has been a waste. (Art Buchwald, Leaving Home)


c) He would remember her joyous laughter for the rest of his life. Max could still see Cleo clearly in his mind, shimmering first with passion and then with delight. And he was responsible for giving her both... Max savored the unfamiliar pleasure that coursed through him… He was not accustomed to being viewed as a man who could make someone else happy. He certainly had never seen himself in such a light. But last night he, Max Fortune, had made Cleo Robbins happy. She said she had waited all her life for the right man, for him, and she claimed she had not been disappointed. Last night, for the first time in his entire life, he, Max Fortune, had been someone’s Mr. Right. (Jayne Ann Krentz, Grand Passion)


d) The rat jumped down and trotted off toward the elbow-bend further up. Hank’s hand was trembling now, and the flashing beam slipped jerkily from place to place, now picking out a dusty barrel, now a decades-old bureau that had been loaded down here, now a stack of old newspapers, now — He jerked the flashlight beam back toward the newspapers and sucked in breath as the light fell on something to the left side of him. A shirt… was that a shirt? Bundled up like an old rag. Something behind it that might have been blue jeans. And something that looked like… Something snapped behind him. He panicked, threw the keys wildly on the table, and turned away shambling into a run. As he passed the box, he saw what made the noise. (Stephen King, Salem’s Lot)


e) Theodore Roosevelt welcomed Blaise heartily into his railroad car, a somewhat shabby affair for the governor of so great a state… “Delighted you could come!” For once Roosevelt did not make two or three words of delighted. He seemed uncharacteristically subdued, even nervous. With a sudden shake, the train started. Blaise and Roosevelt fell together against Senator Platt’s chair. From the chair came a soft cry. Blaise looked down and saw two accusing eyes set in a livid face, glaring up at them. “Senator, forgive me — us. The train…”. Roosevelt stuttered apologies. (GoreVidal, Empire)


f) The old man filled the cups, then leaned back in the booth and looked at Mike… “Never told my story to anybody. Never felt no call to, an’ didn’t want to be called a liar. Folks always figured I’d struck me a pocket, an’ I surely did”. He chuckled. “Only it weren’t raw gold but ree-fined gold. Pure! I found some all right an’ there’s aplenty where it came from if’n you aren’t skeered of ha’nts and the like… That there desert now, them mountains around Navajo an’ east of there… That’s wild country, boy! There’s places yonder you see one time an’ they never look the same again. There’s canyons no man has seen the end of nor ever will, either…” (Louis L’Amour, The Haunted Mesa)


g) The last question was asked for the first time… on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light. The question came about as a result of a five-dollar bet over highballs, and it happened this way: Alexander Adell and Bertram Lupov were two of the faithful attendants of Multivac. As well as any human beings could, they knew what lay behind the cold, clicking face — miles and miles of face — of that giant computer. They had at least a vague notion of the general plan of relays and circuits that had long since grown past the point where any single human could possibly have a firm grasp of the whole. (Isaac Asimov, The Last Question)


h) It was a warm day, almost at the end of March, and I stood outside the barber shop looking up at the jutting neon sign of a second floor dine and dice emporium called Florian’s. A man was looking up at the sign too. He was looking up at the dusty windows with a sort of ecstatic fixity of expression, like a hunky immigrant catching his first sight of the Statue of Liberty. He was a big man but not more than six feet five inches tall and not wider than a beer truck. He was about ten feet away from me. His arms hung loose at his sides and a forgotten cigar smoked behind his enormous fingers… He looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food. (Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely)


i) Ryan had been to the office of the Central intelligence several times before to deliver briefings and occasional messages… Greer waved Ryan over and passed him a folder. The folder was made of red plastic and had a snap closure. Its edges were bordered with white tape and the cover had a simple white paper label bearing the legends EYES ONLY and WILLOW. Neither notation was unusual. Ryan opened the folder and looked first at the index sheet. Evidently there were only three copies of the WILLOW document, each initialed by its owner. A CIA document with only three copies was unusual enough that Ryan, whose highest clearance was NEBULA, had never encountered one. (Tom Clancy, The Hunt for Red October)





Summary is a clear concise orderly retelling of the contents of a story and is generally no more than 10 sentences.


To write a good summary follow these directions:

· Read the text carefully. Divide it into logical parts. Sum up each part in 1-2 sentences.

· Pay special attention to the structure of the plot. Concentrate on the most relevant turns of the events and the most important facts. Avoid minor details and repetitions.

· Change direct narration into indirect.

· Use your own words instead of words used by the author. Do not give quotations.

· Avoid figurative language, try to make it as neutral as possible.

· Stick either to the Past or the Present Tenses.

· Avoid expressing your own judgements, opinions, interpretation or appreciation.


A helping hand

The story is taken from/written by…

The action takes place/is laid/is set in…

The main characters are…

The story opens up with the description of/the conversation between…

Then…/as the result of it…/after that…/finally…/in the end…

So/therefore/thus/because of it…

Exercise 1.

Each of these sentences can be rewritten much more briefly without really changing the meaning. Read them carefully, and then rewrite them in few words (between two and ten).

1. If I were asked to give an accurate description of my physical condition at the present moment, the only possible honest reply would be that I am greatly in need of liquid refreshment.

2. People whose professional activity lies in the field of politics are not, on the whole, conspicuous for their respect for factual accuracy.

3. I must confess to a feeling of very considerable affection for the young female person with whom I spend the greater part of my spare time.

4. Failure to assimilate an adequate quantity of solid food over an extended period of time is absolutely certain to lead, in due course, to a fatal conclusion.

5. It is by no means easy to achieve an accurate understanding of that subject of study which is concerned with the relationship between numbers.

6. It is my fervent wish that the creator of the universe will do his utmost to preserve and protect the royal lady who graciously occupies the position of head of state.

7. I should be greatly obliged if you would have the kindness to bring me, at your convenience, a written statement of the indebtedness I have incurred in connection with the meal which you have just finished serving to me.

8. The climactic conditions prevailing in the British Isles show a pattern of alternating and unpredictable periods of dry and wet weather, accompanied by a similarly irregular cycle of temperature changes.

9. I should be grateful if you would be so good as to stop the uninterrupted flow of senseless remarks with which you are currently straining my patience to breaking point.

10. I have long ceased to believe in the existence of the elderly male white-bearded person who is in charge of bringing gifts annually in the last week of December.


Exercise 2.

Read the text carefully and render it in as few words as possible.


Just leave the keys in, sir


Stan Murch, in a uniform-like blue jacket, stood on the sidewalk in front of the Hilton and watched cab after cab make the loop in to the main entrance. Doesn’t anybody travel in their own car any more? Then at last a Chrysler Imperial with Michigan plates came hesitantly up Sixth Avenue, made the left-hand loop into the Hilton driveway and stopped at the entrance. As a woman and several children got out of the doors on the right of the car, toward the hotel entrance, the driver climbed heavily out on the left. He was a big man with a cigar and a camel’s-hair coat.

Murch was at the door before it was halfway open, pulling it the rest of the way and saying, “Just leave the keys in it, sir.”

“Right,” the man said around his cigar. He got out and sort of shook himself inside the coat. Then, as Murch was about to get behind the wheel, the driver said, “Wait.”

Murch looked at him, “Sir?”

“Here you go, boy,” the man said and pulled a folded dollar bill from his pants pocket and handed it across.

“Thank you, sir,” Murch said. He saluted with the hand holding the dollar, climbed behind the wheel, and drove away. He was smiling as he made the right turn into 53rd Street; it wasn’t every day a man gave you a tip for stealing his car.



Exercise 3.

Make a summary of an examination short-story on your choice. In pairs, make a peer correction of your summaries.







Plot is a chain of fictional events arranged in a meaningful pattern. Each link in this chain helps to build suspense and to solve the problems that the characters face. We can often gain much insight into the meaning of a story by looking at the shape of its plot.


Components of the plot (traditional model of plot development):

· Exposition — usually includes the establishment of the setting, the introduction of the theme and characters;

· Complications — follow the exposition and, as a rule, consist of several events which become tenser (the rising action) as the plot moves toward the moment of decision — the climax;

· Climax — the moment of the highest intensity (the peak of intensity), the crucial event in the story;

· Denouement — the unwinding of the action (the falling action). At this point the fate of the main character is clarified. The conflict is resolved.

Many authors introduce certain deviations from the traditional pattern of plot development, i.e. the author may leave out one or several of the components (e.g. exposition or denouement) or rearrange the components of the plot structure (e.g. a story may open up with the climax).


A fictional plot is usually based on a conflict — a situation or problem which a character tries to resolve. A conflict can be external — a conflict between a character and outside forces (a person against another person, a person against nature, a person against society, etc.) or internal — a conflict within the character him/herself (an individual conflict revealed through the character’s thoughts, feelings, etc.). The largest part of the story will deal with the main character’s struggle to resolve this problem or conflict hence he seeks a solution.


Although the typical fictional plot has a beginning, a middle, and an end, authors may vary their patterns of narration.


Patterns of narration:

1) a straight line narrative (chronological sequence);

2) a complex structure (events are not arranged in chronological order and flashbacks are used to bring the past of the characters into the story);

3) a frame structure (there is a story within the story; the two stories contrast or parallel);

4) a circular structure (the closing event of the story returns the reader to the introductory part).


The author often uses certain techniques to creatively unfold the plot:


· Flashback: A move back in time to an earlier incident, a scene from the past inserted in the narration.

· Foreshadowing: A hint or allusion to events which will develop later in the story.

· Retardation: The withholding of information (the author holds some facts back and keeps the reader guessing).

· Trick ending: The end of a short story comes out as a complete surprise.


Read the short-story and answer the questions that follow it .

J. Joyce


She sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue. Her head was leaned against the window curtains and in her nostrils was the odor of dusty cretonne. She was tired.

Few people passed. The man out of the last house passed on his way home; she heard his footsteps clicking along the concrete pavement and afterwards crunching on the cinder path before the new red houses. One time there used to be a field there in which they used to play every evening with other people’s children. Then a man from Belfast bought the field and built houses in it — not like their little brown houses but bright brick houses with shining roofs. The children of the avenue used to play together in that field — the Devines, the Caters, the Dunns, little Keogh the cripple, she and her brothers and sisters. Ernest, however, never played: he was too grown up. Her father used often to hunt them out of the field with his blackthorn stick; but usually little Keogh used to keep nix and call out when he saw her father coming. Still they seemed to have been rather happythen. Her father was not so bad then, and besides, her mother was alive. That was a long time ago; she and her brothers and sisters were all grown up; her mother was dead. Tizzie Dunn was dead, too, and the Waters had gone back to England. Everything changes. Now she was going to go away like the others, to leave her home.

She looked round the room, reviewing all its familiar objects which she had dusted once a week for so many years, wondering where on earth all the dust came from. Perhaps she would never see again those familiar objects from which she had never dreamed of being divided. And yet during all those years she had never found our the name of the priest whose yellowing photograph hung on the wall above the broken harmonium beside the colored print of the promises made to Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque. He had been a school friend of her father. Whenever he showed the photograph to a visitor her father used to pass it with a casual word:

— He is in Melbourne now.

She had consented to go away, to leave her home. Was that wise? She tried to weigh each side of the question. In her home anyway she had shelter and food; she had those whom she had known all her life about her. Of course she had to work hard both in the house and at business. What would they say of her in the Stores when they found out that she had run away with a fellow? Say she was a fool, perhaps; and her place would be filled up by advertisement. Miss Gavan would be glad. She had always had an edge on her, especially whenever there were people listening.

— Miss Hill, don’t you see these ladies are waiting?

— Look lively, Miss HiII, please.

She would not cry many tears at leaving the Stores.

But in her new home, in a distant unknown country, it would not be like that. Then she would be married — she, Eveline. People would treat her with respect then. She would not be treated as her mother had been. Even now, though she was over nineteen, she sometimes felt herself in danger of her father's violence. She knew it was that that had given her the palpitations. When they were growing up he had never gone for her, like he used to go for Harry and Ernest, because she was a girl; but latterly he had begun to threaten her and say what he would do to her only for her dead mother’s sake. And now she had nobody to protect her. Ernest was dead and Harry, who was in the church decorating business, was nearly always down somewhere in the country. Besides, the invariable squabble for money on Saturday nights had begun to weary her unspeakably. She always gave her entire wages — seven shillings — and Harry always sent up what he could but the trouble was to get any money from her father. He said she used to squander the money, that she had no head, that he wasn’t going to give her his hard-earned money to throw about the streets, and much more, for he was usually fairly bad of a Saturday night. In the end he would give her the money and ask her had she any intention of buying Sunday’s dinner. Then she had to rush out as quickly as she could and do her marketing, holding her black leather purse tightly in her hand as she elbowed her way through the crowds and returning home late under her load of provisions. She had hard work to keep the house together and to see that the two young children who had been left to her charge went to school regularly and got their meals regularly. It was hard work — a hard life — but now that she was about to leave it she did not find it a wholly undesirable life.

She was about to explore another life with Frank. Frank was very kind, manly, open-hearted. She was to go away with him by the night-boat to be his wife and to live with him in Buenos Ayres where he had a home waiting for her. How well she remembered the first time she had seen him; he was lodging in a house on the main road where she used to visit. It seemed a few weeks ago. He was standing at the gate, his peaked cap pushed back on his head and his hair tumbled forward over a face of bronze. Then they had come to know each other. He used to meet her outside the Stores every evening and see her home. He took her to see The Bohemian Girl and she felt elated as she sat in an unaccustomed part of the theatre with him. He was awfully fond of music and sang a little. People knew that they were courting and, when he sang about the lass that loves a sailor, she always felt pleasantly confused. He used to call her Poppens out of fun. First of all it had been an excitement for her to have a fellow and then she had begun to like him. He had tales of distant countries. He had started as a deck boy at a pound a month on a ship of the Allan Line going out to Canada. He told her the names of the ships he had been on and the names of the different services. He had sailed through the Straits of Magellan and he told her stories of the terrible Patagonians. He had fallen on his feet in Buenos Ayres, he said, and had come over to the old country just for a holiday. Of course, her father had found our the affair and had forbidden her to have anything to say to him.

— I know these sailor chaps, he said.

One day he had quarrelled with Frank and after that she had to meet her lover secretly.

The evening deepened in the avenue. The white of two letters in her lap grew indistinct. One was to Harry; the other was to her father. Ernest had been her favorite but she liked Harry too. Her father was becoming old lately, she noticed; he would miss her. Sometimes hecould be very nice. Not long before, when she had been laid up for a day, he had read her out a ghost story and made toast for her at the fire. Another day, when their mother was alive, they had all gone for a picnic to the Hill of Howth. She remembered her father putting on her mother’s bonnet to make the children laugh.

Her time was running out but she continued to sit by the window, leaning her head against the window curtain, inhaling the odor of dusty cretonne. Down far in the avenue she could hear a street organ playing. She knew the air. Strange that it should come that very night to remind her of the promise to her mother, her promise to keep the home together as long as she could. She remembered the last night of her mother's illness; she was again in the close dark room at the other side of the hall and outside she heard a melancholy air of Italy. The organ-player had been ordered to go away and given sixpence. She remembered her father strutting back into the sickroom saying:

— Damned Italians! coming over here!

As she mused, the pitiful vision of her mother’s life laid its spell on the very quick of her being — that life of commonplace sacrifices closing in final craziess. She trembled, as she heard again her mother’s voice saying constantly with foolish insistence:

— Derevaun Seraun! Derevaun Seraun!

She stood up in a sudden impulse of terror. Escape! She must escape! Frank would save her. He would give her life, perhaps love, too. But she wanted to live. Why should she be unhappy? She had a right to happiness. Frank would take her in his arms, fold her in his arms. He would save her.

She stood among the swaying crowd in the station at the North Wall. He held her hand and she knew that he was speaking to her, saying something about the passage over and over again. The station was full of soldiers with brown baggages. Through the wide doors of the sheds she caught a glimpse of the black mass of the boat, lying in beside the quay wall, with illumined portholes. She answered nothing. She felt her cheek pale and cold and, out of a maze of distress, she prayed to God to direct her, to show her what was her duty. The boat blew a long mournful whistle into the mist. If she went, tomorrow she would be on the sea with Frank, steaming towards Buenos Ayres. Their passage had been booked. Could she still draw back after all he had done for her? Her distress awoke a nausea in her body and she kept moving her lips in silent fervent prayer.

A bell clanged upon her heart. She felt him seize her hand:

— Come!

All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. He was drawing her into them: he would drown her. She gripped with both hands at the iron railing.

— Come!

No! No! No! It was impossible. Her hands clutched the iron in frenzy. Amid the seas she sent a cry of anguish!

— Eveline! Evvy!

He rushed beyond the barrier and called to her to follow. He was shouted at to go on but he still called to her. She set her white face to him, passive, like a helpless animal. Her eyes gave him no sign of love or farewell or recognition.


1. How would you define the type of the story? What type of conflict is at the basis of the story?

2. Does the plot-structure seem traditional to you? Which pattern does the plot of the story take?

3. Introduce the protagonist of the story: age, background, the situation she finds herself in.

4. Analyze Eveline’s definition of the word home. To what extent does her idea of home differ or contrast with her idea of new home?

5. What is the role of religion and romance in Eveline? Analyze the extent to which both issues represent different ways of responding to the patriarchal structure of families like Eveline’s.

6. What factors might have influenced Eveline’s decision to stay home, in your opinion? Does the open ending of the story allow a variety of explanations?




The setting can be defined as the place where the story happens, the time when it happens and the conditions under which the story is told. The setting of a novel or a short story is crucial to the creation of a complete work as it has a definite impact on the character development and plot. The setting is often found in the exposition of the plot and readily establishes time and place. Frequently it plays an important role in the conflict giving credence to the rising action as a climax or turning point is approached.


Possible elements of the setting:

1. Physical objects (e.g. elements of domestic interiors). Some writers provide a great amount of detail when describing their novels’/short-stories’ settings, and they do so for specific reasons. In Fathers and Sons, Turgenev distinguishes between two kinds of country families by contrasting the elegance and the earthiness of their respective households. The ominousness of Great Expectations by Dickensproceeds as much from the bleak marshes and the Gothic house owned by the character Miss Havisham as from anything the characters say or do.


2. Social and cultural environment. Some writers pay less attention to specific physical objects, but this does not mean they are not concerned with social environment. For instance, in focusing on details such as Mr. Bennet’s income in Pride and Prejudice or Mr. Eliot’s background in Persuasion, Jane Austen creates an atmosphere in which a character’s background and hometown — whether London, the town of Meryton, or somewhere in northern England — becomes central to the story.

3. Geographical location and landscape. Sometimes authors make time and place so essential to the narrative that they become as important as the characters themselves. For example, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne, and Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy are inconceivable without their settings of Stonehenge, colonial New England, and the Yorkshire moors, respectively.

4. Historical period. The novel Jazz by Toni Morrison is set in the New York City neighborhood of Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance. This cultural movement of the 1920s and early 1930s featured innovations in literature, theater, art and music. The setting Morrison creates is integral to the book, whose narrative voice echoes the loose, unpredictable rhythms of the jazz music of the time.

Possible functions of the setting:

1. Setting the story in a particular environment the author creates the necessary atmosphere.

2. Setting the story in a true-to-life environment the author increases the credibility of the characters and events in the story.

3. The setting, e.g. descriptions of nature, may function as means of expressing the emotional state of the character.

4. The setting may also enhance characterization by paralleling the characters’ mood and behavior.

5. The main function of the domestic interior as an element of the setting is individualization of the character, revealing certain features of his or her personality.

6. The setting may serve as contrasting background to the action of the story. Descriptions of peaceful and undisturbed nature may precede stormy violent action in the story, and thus help the author to take the reader by surprise.

7. The setting may function as a main force opposing the character (protagonist), if the story is based on the man-versus-nature conflict.

8. The setting often acquires a symbolic meaning and helps to reveal the central idea(s) of the story.


The setting is usually given in the exposition of the story, but very often the descriptions of the setting may be scattered throughout the whole story.


Exercise 1.

Read the passages given below. Point out the elements of the setting and comment on their function.


O. Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray

The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.

From the corner of the divan of Persian saddle-bags on which he was lying, smoking, as was his custom, innumerable cigarettes, Lord Henry Wotton could just catch the gleam of a laburnum, whose tremulous branches seemed hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so flame-like as theirs; and now and then the fantastic shadows of birds in flight flitted across the long tussore-silk curtains that were stretched in front of the huge window, producing a kind of momentary Japanese effect, and making him think of those pallid jade-faced painters of Tokyo who, through the medium of an art that is necessarily immobile, seek to convey the sense of swiftness and motion. The sullen murmur of the bees shouldering their way through the long unmown grass, or circling with monotonous insistence round the dusty gilt horns of the straggling woodbine, seemed to make the stillness more oppressive. The dim roar of London was like the bourdon note of a distant organ.


Ch. Bronte

Jane Eyre

The ground was hard, the air was still, my road was lonely. I walked fast till I got warm, and then I walked slowly to enjoy and analyze the species of pleasure brooding for me in the hour and situation. It was three o’clock; the church bell tolled as I passed under the belfry: the charm of the hour lay in its approaching dimness, in the low-gliding and pale-beaming sun. I was a mile from Thornfield; in a lane noted for wild roses in summer, for nuts and blackberries in autumn, and even now possessing a few coral treasures in hips and haws, but whose best winter delight lay in its utter solitude and leafless repose. If a breath of air stirred, it made no sound here. Far and wide, on each side, there were only fields, where no cattle now browsed; and the little brown birds, which stirred occasionally in the hedge, looked like single russet leaves that had forgotten to drop.

On the hill-top above me sat the rising moon: pale yet as a cloud, but brightening momentarily, she looked over Hay, which, half lost in trees, sent up a blue smoke from its few chimneys. It was yet a mile distant, but in the absolute hush I could hear plainly its thin murmurs of life.

A rude noise broke on these fine ripplings and whisperings, at once so far away and so clear — a positive tramp, tramp, a metallic clatter, which effaced the soft wave-wanderings as, in a picture, the solid mass of a crag, or the rough boles of a great oak, drawn in dark and strong on the foreground, efface the aerial distance of azure hill, sunny horizon, and blended clouds where tint melts into tint.


E. A. Poe

The Murders in the Rue Morgue

The apartment (the door of which, being found locked, with the key inside, was forced open) was in the wildest disorder — the furniture broken and thrown about in all directions. There was only one bedstead; and from this the bed had been removed, and thrown in the middle of the floor. On a chair lay a razor, besmeared with blood. On the hearth were two or three long and thick tresses of human hair, also dabbled with blood, and seeming to have been pulled out by the roots. Upon the floor were found four Napoleons, an ear-ring of topaz, three large silver spoons, and two bags, containing nearly four thousand franks in gold. The drawers of a bureau, which stood in one corner, were open, and had been, apparently, rifled, although many articles still remained in them. A small iron safe was discovered under the bed. It was open, with the key still in the door. It had no contents, beyond a few old letters, and other papers of little consequence.




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