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AP Lit Short Fiction Project

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Elizabeth Fox

on 22 October 2012

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Transcript of AP Lit Short Fiction Project

Evaluating Fiction:
"A Municipal Report" and
"A Jury of Her Peers" Municipal Report A Jury of Her Peers Structure Coincidence resolves mystery of who killed Mr. Wright:
"If there had been years and years of—nothing, then a bird to sing to you, it would have been awful—still—after the bird was still" (405). A Jury of Her Peers A MunicipalReport Conflict Chance Wentworth Caswell clearly evil:
"I knew him for a type the moment my eyes suffered from the sight of him. A rat has no geographical habitat" (378).
Drunkard, steals from wife Un-noticed violence in a quiet town
-town supposed to be quiet but Caswell's
death was a "terrific battle" and no one
noticed 388 Dependent on
Moves the plot forward
Blue Dollar Creates suspense
Impy begins screaming when apprehended by Mr. Caswell Suspense Surprise Surprise diverts from the convenient coincidences used to resolve plot Morally gray Surprise carried plot Surprise Reveal human truths Suspense Finding the bird Chance Theme Symbols A Jury of Her Peers Municipal Report The Rocking Chair Absence of Minnie Wright
the rocker "was dingy, with wooden rungs up the back, and the middle rung was gone, and the chair sagged to one side" (392) The Bird Symbol of her freedom
"She - come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird herself. Real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and - fluttery. How-she-did-change." (403) ponder the difference between
judicial system:
is the law" and
s'pose it is" (399)
was a crime! Who's going
her ignoring Mrs. Wright (406). Quilting Millie's Mental State
"'The sewing,' said Mrs. Peters, in a troubled way. 'All the rest of them have been so nice and even - but - this one." Names Women have no separate identities; Mrs. Peters
Martha Hale shows independence
Minnie Wright Wright's treatment of his wife:
killed that, too" (405). Does Mr. Wright's The Coat An old coat from a military officer
It has lost its beauty
Still trying to keep it up
"But rain and sun and age had so variegated it hat Joseph's coat, beside it, would have faded to a pale monochrome" (380). Women's rights and oppression Stock Characters
Revealing Character
Character Contrast
Developing Characters created by murder mystery dilemma of whether Mrs. Wright was justified in killing Mr. Wright dilemma of whether to show the men the proof Purpose was to show reader that there was no easy answer Wentworth Caswell Portrayed as a Northerner
Gatling Gun- used by Northerners
Appomatox- won by Northerner
Described as having a "a face of great acreage, red, pulpy, and with a kind of sleepy massiveness like that of Buddha"(19).
Flat, Non-dynamic
Not well-characterized (Stock)
Does not change Azalea Adair Gentle and Beautiful
Azalea is "robed in the cheapest and cleanest dress I ever saw, with an air as simple as a queen's"(58).
Wisdom from books and sheltered living
"She had been educated at home, and her knowledge of the world was derived from inference and by inspiration"(60).
Compared to the 9 Muses and 3 Graces
Charm, beauty, Creativity
In trouble through no fault of her own Stock Characters
Reduced plausibility
-Women are not as meek as they may seem.
-“’Oh, well,’ said Mrs. Hale’s husband, with good-natured superiority, 'women are used to worrying over trifles.’ The women moved a little closer together. Neither of them spoke. The county attorney seemed to suddenly remember his manners-and think of his future” (395).
-“’But would the women know a clue if they did come upon it?’ [Mr. Hale] said,” (396).
-After discussing the quilt, Mrs. Wright’s unhappy marriage, and the birdcage, the women find the bird with its neck wrung and come to a conclusion about Mrs. Wright’s motives on their own: “And then again the eyes of the two women met-this time clung together in a looking of dawning comprehension, of growing horror” (404). Bad Guy
No redeeming qualities
Loses to Good
Damsel in Distress
In need of assistance
Relatively helpless
Noble Cause
Triumphs over Evil
Serves the Damsel Direct Character contrasts Good vs Evil Narrator
Extremely superficial-> Moves on immediately to Buffalo
Begins journey thinking that Nasheville is a quiet town, with " Nothing of the life here that gives color and variety to the cities in the East and West. Just a good, ordinary, humdrum, business town."(28).
Ends with the opinion that "it is a rash one who will lay his finger on the map and say: "In this town there can be no romance - what could happen here?"(2). Developing Uncle Ceasar Likened to regal figures of history
He had "a face that reminded me of Brutus, and a second afterwards of the late King Cettiwayo."(50).
His coat is so "variegated it that Joseph's coat, beside it, would have faded to a pale monochrome."(32).
Fall from position of power
Descendent of King of Congo Characterization Good and Evil are clear cut Azalea Adaire clearly good:
she has "an air as simple as a queen's" 382 Mrs. Hale- Sharp, stronger convictions, leader
Mrs. Peters-oppressed, quiet, fire underneath
Mrs. Wright- the one who fought back, Changed from color to gray
Men-unassuming, condescending, set opinions. Revealing character Stock Characters
Flat and Non-dynamic
No moral conflict
"There was a laugh for the ways of women"(159).
Used to emphasize the women's characters
County Attorney
Not well-developed The Men The Blue Dollar's Multiple appearances Button's reappearance Improbable coincidences used to resolve story Developing Character
"The law has got to punish crime, Mrs. Hale"(258).
"But there she broke--she could not touch the bird. She stood there helpless, foolish"(291).
Defined by husband, closer to morality
"For that matter, a sheriff's wife is married to the law."
Heeds her greater moral law over her husbands law Mrs. Peters Azalea married to Caswell is a surprise, but narrator should have known her last name Had her song stolen, and takes revenge
" She used to sing. He killed that too"(245).
Showed signs of rebellion before the murder
Buying the bird-> women allowed to keep money they earned
Either worked hard to buy the bird and the cage, or took money from house funds Mrs Wright Character Contrasts dollar bill happens to be unique Surprises achieved fairly Mrs. Hale Feels guilty for not visiting Mrs. Wright
Senses similarity in her own situation
Parallels in the kitchen's state
"If I was you I wouldn't tell her her fruit was gone!"(265)
Aspects of her life disappearing
Robust and more confident
"Mrs. Hale, still leaning against the door, had that sinking feeling of the mother whose child is about to speak a piece. Lewis often wandered along and got things mixed up in a story."
Only non-directly-characterized female character Developing
Stock and Depth
Revealing Character "The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice. " -Martin Luthor King Jr. Direct-> Initial Assumption Revealing Character Indirect-> further examination "She was small and thin and didn't have a strong voice"(5).
She had that shrinking manner, and yet her eyes looked as if they could see a long way into things. Stronger than initial assumption-lost a child
"When we homesteaded in Dakota, and my first baby died--after he was two years old--and me with no other then--"(255).
Tried to rebel against the law and her husband A Municipal Report -It is often unwise to jump quickly to assumptions.
-“But dear cousins all…it is a rash one who will lay his finger on the map and say ‘In this town there can be no romance–what could happen here?’ Yes, it is a bold and rash deed to challenge in one sentence history, romance, and Rand and McNally” (376). Possible Themes -Explicitly stated theme.
-Widely held views of the world that falsify human life.
-Not unifying concepts of the story.
-Undermined by other elements of the story that important to commercial fiction, such as plot and suspense.
-Purpose is to do little more than entertain. A Jury of Her Peers Possible Themes In contrast, the themes in "A Jury of Her Peers" serve to unify the story. -Sometimes the line between what is right and what is wrong is not always clear.
-“Martha Hale snatched the box from the sheriff’s wife, and got it in the pocket of her big coat just as the sheriff and the county attorney came back into the kitchen” (408). -One should not judge others and presume that they are inferior.
-“[Mrs. Peters] had that shrinking manner, and yet her eyes looked as if they could see a long way into things” (398). -Implicit themes.
-Oppose beliefs of the time period in which this story was written. Causes the reader to reevaluate his or her own views on life.
-Themes serve to unify all elements of the story.
-Rather than to entertain, the purpose of this story is to reveal truths about human nature through its themes. On a broader scale crime justify Mrs. Wright's crime? Con Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale justice and the
Mrs. Peters says, "The law Mrs. Hale responds, "I
Mrs. Hale says, "That
to punish that?" about Mrs Hale discusses Mr.
"She used to sing. He flict Fruit Life force for Mrs. Wright
Cherries, only fruit not rotten
Virginity; not a good marriage Makes the Days Fly By -Justice will be served; bad things will happen to bad people.
-"The erstwhile Major had been found dead on a dark street" (388). Point of View A Municipal Report A Jury of Her Peers -First person.
-Limits reader to narrator's thoughts -> biased, puts us against Major Caswell from the start.
-"I think that if he had not used his razor that day I would have repulsed his advances, and the criminal calendar of the world would have been spared the addition of one murder" (378).
-Adds to purpose of the story by providing suspense and surprise.
-First person POV also conceals information from the reader. Conflict is mainly physical--person vs. person
Avoids emotional conflict "Azalea Adair rose without surprise or emotion and disappeared. For two minutes I heard the hoarse rumble of the man's voice; then she returned calmly to her chair" (385). Unity Many parts irrelevant
Statistics about Nashville Fairly unified Plot incidents do not always lead naturally to the next "The city has an area of 10 square miles; 181 miles of streets, of which 137 miles are paved; a system of waterworks that costs $2,000,000, with 77 miles of mains" (381) Ending happy but unfairly achieved "Bad Guy" dies so conflict is resolved
Unlikely Uncle Caesar could have killed Caswell without incriminating himself -Third person.
-Focuses on the women, mainly Mrs. Hale -> puts us on the side of the women - adds to the purpose/feminist themes.
-"'Well, ladies,' said the county attorney, as one turning from serious things to little pleasantries, 'have you decided whether she was going to quilt it or knot it?'" (404).
-Author uses the point of view to reveal evidence and clues to the murder. Unity Plot unified and relevant--all incidents steer reader towards conclusion Story progresses logically Ending indeterminate--do not find out Mrs. Wright's fate Complicates story--women and readers sympathetic toward Mrs. Wright, but Mrs. Wright is the murderer Conclusion A Jury of Her Peers A Municipal Report -Commercial story.
-Central purpose was mainly to entertain, rather than to reveal truths about human life.
-Falsifies human life through elements like characterization and themes. -Literary fiction.
-More significant purpose than "A Municipal Report."-Purpose was to reveal true aspects of human nature. General Information Municipal Report
Plot-> Moved along by suspense and surprise, other elements not unified or cohesive
A Jury of Her Peers
Theme-> Strong Feminist message
Unifies other elements Elementary, Dear Watson The Blue Dollar If where you live defines who you become, I want to live in the Hundred Acre Woods Dirty money
Passed on to everyone
Circulation of money
"I looked once more at the dollar with the upper right-hand corner missing, torn through the middle, and patched with a strip of blue tissue paper" (386). Municipal Report->Nashville
General Atmosphere is important
South vs North Conflicts
Racial Tensions, Inequality of gender
Sleepy town
Specific town is not
Jury of Her Peers
Location important
Small town leads to seclusion
Women's personal connection to Mrs. Wright (Esp. Mrs. Hale)
"Mrs. Hale scarcely finished her reply, for they had gone up a little hill and could see the Wright place now, and seeing it did not make her feel like talking. It looked very lonesome this cold March morning. It had always been a lonesome-looking place. It was down in a hollow, and the poplar trees around it were lonesome-looking trees." The Button Only button remaining
Falls at the crime scene
Last part of his morals that has remained in tact until he is at the crime scene
"The lone button was the size of a half-dollar, made of yellow horn and sewed on with coarse twine" (380). Style Characteristics Swag is not the same thing as style Municipal Report
Describe in minute detail things important to the plot, elevated diction
Descriptions of Nashville, Intro Musings
Unessential, choppy
Writing is based on Narrator's observations rather than dialogue
Many allusions
Biblical (Ham, Land of Nod, Joseph, Jehu, etc)
Literary (Tennyson, Sidney Carton, Rip Van Winkle)
Historical (Brutus, King Cettiwayo, Jefferson Brick)
Jury of Her Peers
Fairly Strait-forward Style
Simple language-> tension Humor & Irony A Jury of Her Peers A Municipal Report Nothing happens in Nashville; the murder
The Southerner who hates the South
The evidence that the narrator gets rid off
Town referred to as "a quiet place" and "a good, ordinary, humdrum, business town" (379) The men making fun of the women for looking for the smaller things, which helps solve the murder
John's death similar to the bird's
"'But would the women know a clue if they did come upon it?"' (396) The importance of Titles Just Wait until I'm Knighted Municipal report
A report on the people
Jury of Her Peers
Minnie Foster's fate ultimately rest in the women's hands
Women not allowed on Juries then
Reader involved-> part of the Jury
Jury sworn to deliver TRUE verdict-> Feminist slant Central Purpose Your justice is not my justice Municipal Report
Centered around the idea of "The Evil get what they deserve" (Socially accepted idea)
Elements->Inserts break up story
Allusions create difficulty
Pushes elements together too hard
Falsified characters and unrealistic elements undermine purpose
Jury of Her Peers
Commentary on the nature of Morality & Justice and oppression (Not accepted at the time)
Creates the morally ambiguous situation and involves the reader
Clearly shows the nature of oppression and contrasts it with the women's wits
Elements tie together under theme Setting Second readings and their implications Second times the charm
(unless it's not) Municipal report
Considerably less impact
Relies on suspense and surprise
Jury of Her Peers
Second Reading allows for further analyzation and attention to details
"She made a move as if to finish it,--unfinished things always bothered her,--and then she glanced around and saw that Mrs. Peters was watching her--and she didn't want Mrs. Peters to get that feeling she had got of work begun and then--for some reason--not finished."
Even though the women come to the same conclusion, they have their own identities and disagreements, unlike the men Round
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