On the book Norton Introduction to Literature textbook, how does Mays define and explain “plot” as an element of fiction? How does she distinguish this from the simple “action” in a story?
2. How does Mays define the plot element of sequencing? What are flashbacks, flashforwards, and foreshadowing? How does Mays define the plot element of pacing? Why are sequencing and pacing important elements of short story plots?
3. Consider the five parts of a typical short story plot that Mays describes on pages 61 – 63, and then perform a close reading of “Popular Mechanics” by Raymond Carver. Answer these questions about “Popular Mechanics”:
a. Where is the exposition in this story? How does Carver’s foreshadowing in the description of the weather heighten the drama between the quarreling couple?
b. How much of the interaction between the couple is the rising action of the plot? What does this long rising action contribute to the sudden climax of the story?
c. “Popular Mechanics” is missing both falling action and a stabilizing conclusion. Instead, it ends at the climax of the story. What effect does this sudden ending have on us as readers? What are some possible meanings of the last sentence of Carver’s story?
4. Now, take a close look at “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin.
a. There is both external and internal conflict in “The Story of an Hour.” What causes the story’s external conflict? What is the nature of Mrs. Mallard’s internal conflict? How do both types of conflict help to shape the story’s plot? Man and Mrs. Mallard is fighting her internal urgent that rejoice in the fact that she is now a free and independent woman.
b. What do the doctors misunderstand about why Mrs. Mallard dies at the end? Was she really overjoyed to see her husband still alive, or was she perhaps feeling something else at the moment of her final heart attack? Explain your answer, using evidence from the story to support your response.