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Analyzing a Narrative

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on 1 September 2014

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Transcript of Analyzing a Narrative

Analyzing a Narrative
What is a narrative?
A narrative is a piece of writing that tells a story. Narratives usually focus on characters that have problems, adventures, or experiences, and they are written for the purpose of entertaining an audience.

Examples of Narratives

short stories
novels
movies
TV shows
cartoons
memoirs
autobiographies / biographies
Ingredients of a narrative
Characters
Plot
Setting
Descriptive Language
Atmosphere / Feeling of a mood
Clear point of view
Analysis!
ANALYSIS is the process of looking closely at small parts to see how they affect the whole. Literary analysis focuses on how the author uses the plot, setting, characters, and other techniques to create meaning.

CHARACTER ANALYSIS is the process of looking at what the author reveals about a character through the plot, description, and dialogue. A character's words, actions, relationships with others, and their struggles can all be ways that the author characterizes them.
Characterization
Characterization includes methods used to present the personality of a character in a narrative.

The author can directly describe the character:
The author may say, "Tony was a very courageous man who wasn't afraid to do the right thing."

Characters' actions can bring out their traits
The author may say, "Tony knew there was a dog trapped inside the house, so he ran in even as flames engulfed the entire building."
Characterization
The way the author describes the characters tells the reader how the author wants us to feel about them. Descriptions of a person's physical character are often used to express what their inner character is, too.

For example, a character who is beautiful will also be a very moral, good person. On the other hand, villains are often represented as ugly and physically unpleasant.
Based on the following descriptions, how do you think the author wants us to feel about these characters?

a. My grandmother called me over to her. She had gentle eyes and spoke in a soft voice. Her hair was curled into a neat bun at the top of her head, and her clothes smelled like rose petals.



b. I met the coach at my first football practice. We stood outside on the field, the sun forming beads of sweat that slid down from his thinning hair to his chin. He coughed and spat on the ground, his yellow teeth peeking out from his wrinkled mouth.
Plot
The plot of a narrative is the sequence of events that take place in the story. Many narratives follow this plot diagram:

Exposition - characters are introduced, information about the setting is given

Rising Action - the main conflict is introduced; the reader begins to wonder what will happen

Climax - the most exciting moment; the turning point

Falling Action - aftermath of the turning point; things are calming down

Resolution - the story is brought to an ending; the "happily ever after" moment
Plot - Conflict
A conflict is a struggle between forces. There are several kinds of conflicts.

Human vs. Human
A man is kidnapped by a criminal and must figure out how to escape.
Human vs. Nature
A fishing boat is out on the open ocean when a huge storm approaches.
Human vs. Society
A young woman is accused by her peers of being a witch and is threatened to be burned at the stake.
Human vs. Her/Himself
An alcoholic must fight his own addiction to alcohol in order to survive.
Setting
The setting of the narrative is where the story takes place. This includes physical location, time of day, season, and historical period.
Example: That morning, we found ourselves in a leafy, green forest. The waterfall splashed down on the rocks, and a cool mist gently floated down onto our faces as we stood at the bottom.
Descriptive Language
In a narrative, the author uses descriptive language to help the reader visualize what is happening.

Examples of general vs. descriptive language
General: It was a nice day.
Descriptive: The sun was shining and a slight breeze blew across my face.

General: She was a beautiful woman.
Descriptive: The woman had long, flowing locks of chocolate-colored hair, shiny green eyes, and a joyful smile.

General: The Christmas tree looked perfect.
Descriptive: The Christmas tree was covered in sparkling lights, delicate glass ornaments, and had a lovingly-placed angel at its top.
Descriptive Language
Descriptive language is also used to help create a mood or feeling.

SPOOKY MOOD / FEELING:
Jamie walked home nervously, trying to get there as soon as possible. She thought she noticed a dark shadow behind her, but her eyes darted away, afraid to see what was making the shadow. Overhead, the clouds became a dark gray color, and a chilling wind blew her hair in front of her face.

CHEERFUL MOOD/FEELING:
Skipping down her street, Jamie took time to admire each beautiful flower she saw. She passed a tree filled with the tiny chirps of newborn birds, and she twirled around in the sunshine. As she passed her neighbors in their yards, she called out, "Good afternoon!" and waved.
Atmosphere / Feeling of a Mood
The atmosphere or mood of a narrative is the general mood or feeling established in a piece of literature. Atmosphere is created through word choice and sentence structure, as well as through descriptive language.
In this picture, what is the atmosphere or mood? Explain what creates the mood.
Clear point of view
The point of view refers to who is telling the story.

FIRST PERSON POINT OF VIEW:
The narrator uses "I" to tell the action and is involved in the story.

Example: I could not wait to get home and see if the letter had arrived in the mail! I was so excited to find out if I'd been accepted to college!

THIRD PERSON POINT OF VIEW:
The story is told from a perspective outside the story. The characters are referred to by name, or as he, she, or they.

Example: Michelle ran all the way home to see if the letter had arrived in the mail.
For this photograph, identify the characters, setting, feeling of a mood, descriptive aspects, point of view, and possible plot.
Structuring your analysis
Here are some options for writing about your character analysis:

The author shows that _________ (character) is _________ (trait) when he/she says _________. This shows that he/she is _________ because _________.


When _________ (character) says _________, it shows that he/she is _________.


The author shows that _________ (character) is _________ (trait) when _________ (character's action).


The reader can see that _________ (character) is _________ (trait) when the author says, _________.
Examples
Jose was jumping up and down and watching out the window. He could not wait for his mother to get home. She was bringing his new baby sister home for the first time. He wanted to see her and play with her for the first time. He checked the clock and counted down the minutes until it was finally 4:00 p.m.
CHARACTER ANALYSIS:
The author shows that Jose is excited to meet his sister when she describes how he "counted down the minutes." This shows that Jose is excited because he literally can't wait to see his sister, and it is almost like time can't pass fast enough.
Those Winter Sundays

by Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?
Simba = cute = good character
Scar = ugly = bad character
How does the story have a different effect depending on the point of view?
How is the father in this poem characterized?

1. What are key words / phrases that stand out?

2. What do these words / phrases show about the father?

3. Using the sentence starters, write a statement about how the father in this poem is characterized.
Sample response:
1. key words / phrases:
• “with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze”
• “no one ever thanked him”
• “him, who had driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well”

2. What do these words / phrases show about the father?
• he is hardworking and has a hard life
• he is unappreciated
• he is nurturing and thoughtful

3. The reader can see that the father is hardworking and dedicated when the author describes how “with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather [he] made banked fires blaze.” He works so hard that his hands are damaged and in pain, but he still takes the time to make the fire.

"Her mother wore a white oxford cloth shirt that belonged to Minna's father. The sleeves were rolled up, her brown curly hair wild around her face. The typewriter clacked. Papers littered the floor. The television was on. By her mother's feet there were laundry baskets, one piled on top of another, clothes pouring out, one basket filled to the brim with striped soccer socks."
-from The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt
How is the mother in this poem characterized?

1. What are key words / phrases that stand out?

2. What do these words / phrases show about the mother?

3. Using the sentence starters, write a statement about how the mother in this poem is characterized.
How is the woman in this picture characterized?

1. What are some key details that stand out?

2. What do these details show about the woman?

3. Using the sentence starters, write a statement about how the woman in this picture is characterized.
My Parents' Dance Lessons, 1945
by Alison Townsend

In the story my aunt tells,
this is how they met. It's
September, the war just over,
the air crisp as the creases
in my father's khaki pants,
bright as his Bronze Star,
pungent as the marigold
my mother tucks behind one ear,
the night they both sign
up for dance lessons
"the Arthur Murray way"
at the Statler Hotel
in downtown Philly.

He's there to meet girls, of that
I am certain, and she's there
for romance, though I don't think
that's what she would say,
both of them looking for something
as intangible as the cigarette smoke
that rises in old, deckle-edged photos—
everyone tough, glamorous, vampy.

How is each parent in this poem characterized?

1. What are some key words / phrases that stand out?

2. What do these words / phrases show about each parent?

3. Using the sentence starters, write a statement about how each parent in this poem is characterized.
How are Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, and the Kardashian family characterized in this clip?
Figurative Language
Figurative language is another way of providing description. Some examples of figurative language are:

Simile:
A comparison of two things, using the word "like" or "as"
Rudy has hands that are like sandpaper

Metaphor
: A comparison of two things without using the words "like" or "as"
When Sam is in the pool, he's a fish

Hyperbole
: A great exaggeration used to emphasize a point
She loves watching TV so much, she never gets off the couch

Personification
: Giving human attributes to something that is not human
The sofa groaned under the weight of the triplets.
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