Use these questions in addition to specific questions given in class. Whenever possible, create your own analytical or probing* question.
1. Review the story's action and comment on any unusual plot structure.
2. Identify the important turning points of the story. Where is the climax or turning point that determines the outcome? Look for a change in fortune, or a reversal
3. Determine all of the story's conflicts. Determine the major conflict and state this in terms of protagonist versus antagonist.
4. Consider the theme, the story's truth. What idea does the story examine and what may it reveal about human behavior or values?
5. Consider the setting, including objects. How may descriptions of place and objects help us understand character or theme?
6. Explore the characters and examine how they support the
story's truth. Are they believable and round, or flat and one-dimensional? Does
the major character (protagonist) change? What causes the change?
If you were able to give advice to one of the characters, what would you say?
7. Look for any irony--situational, verbal, or dramatic. Explain the effect of the irony.
8. Look for telling quotations. Note any passage that is particularly revealing; identify the page or paragraph and explain its significance.
9. Was the ending satisfying? Explain why. If you were not satisfied, rewrite the ending.
10. Write a scene that may be added to the story; remain consistent with the story's details and character development.
11. Comment on any idea or character that seems to be uniquely American in the stories. Do any of the stories help us understand ourselves, or earlier generations, as Americans? Consider both positive and negative attributes: the sense of independence and support for democratic ideals that characterized the founding of this country as well as racism and other causes of the nation's division.
*I distinguish analytical questions from factual or surface questions. An analytical question requires more than a yes or no or simple fact as a response; the probing question forces us to examine the story's unique expression of human conflicts and values. Some questions require a combination of fact and analysis.