English 320: The Short Story | Spring 2005
Prep Sheet for Short-Answer Exam
Time and place
The exam will take place during our regular class session on Wednesday, 1 April.
Questions will require answers of 3 to 5 sentences. (More on this in class discussion on Monday, after Spring Break.)
The exam will cover the following dozen short stories and five traditional works of short fiction that aren't short stories. (Study guides, when available, are pointed to by links.)
- Barth's "Night-Sea Journey" (sg)
- Beirce's "An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge"
- Boyle's "Greasy Lake"
- Chopin, "The Story of an Hour" (sg)
- Clarke, "The Nine Billion Names of God"
- Ellison, "A Party Down at the Square" (sg)
- Faulkner, "A Rose for Emily" (sg)
- Faulkner, "Barn Burning" (sg)
- de Maupassant's "The Necklace"
- Mishima's "Patriotism"
- Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" (sg)
- Walker's "Everyday Use" (sg1, sg2)
- The Brothers Grimm's "Godfather Death"
- Jean de la Fontaine's version of Aesop's "The Oak and the Reeds"
- Sigmund Freud's allegorization of "The Horse of Schilda" [Don't forget this important context.]
- Bierce, "The Moral Principle and the Material Interest" (sg)
- James Thurber, "The Owl Who Was God" (sg)
In re-reading a story for which there is no study guide designed for that particular story, you would do well to rehearse carrying through the agendas of curiosity laid out in the General Study Guide.
You will also want to gather together the short writings you did in the course of the course so far. These can be the basis of further discussion among you and your classmates, whether in person or via the course Message Board. (Remember, eligible contributions there earn credit in their own right.)
You'll want to be sure you're on top of the following concepts, and of the agendas of curiosity that we're invited to undertake in light of our discoveries about how a given particular story is designed in respect of them:
- character (several distinct senses) and characterization
- static vs dynamic characterization
- flat vs. round characterization
- dramatic question
- dramatic situation & conflict (various types)
- exposition, precipitating incident, rising action (complication), climax, dénouement (falling action)
- initiation story
- foil systems, foil relationships, etc.
- "narrative p.o.v.": participant vs. non-participant narration (and the sub-varieties of each)
- dramatic monologue (special case of participant narration)
- point of view of a story vs. p.o.v. of a person or of a fictional character
- "objective p.o.v.," "omniscient p.o.v," "reliable p.o.v." (distinctions among)
- dramatic irony
- tone: in connection with this, it would be a good idea to review Oliver Sack's essay "The President's Speech".
In addition to the articles in our online-glossary (linked to above), you should review what our editors clarify in their discussion of "The Elements of Short Fiction" (pp. 1863-1875 [i.e., excluding their discussion of "Style"]). This will be especially helpful with the elements of plot in Item F, above, since there is no article in our online glossary on these.
Also helpful, as reinforcement, or as a brief reminder, would be the Glossary our editors provide on pp. 1911-1924. In particular, the entry there on "Allegory" might be helpful.
Finally, you'll want to be clear on what distinguishes what we're calling "short stories" in our class from traditional short fiction. Here are 4 brief passages in our text that point you to the key distinctions:
- "The Essential Qualities of the Short Story" (p. 1848)
- paragraph 2 on p. 3;
- "Significant Features of the Early Short Story" (p. 1846)
- "Plot vs Characterization in Modern Stories" (pp. 1856-1858), especially (for now) the opening paragraph.
Part 2 of the Prep Sheet gives concrete examples of the kinds of questions you may expect to encounter on the exam.
There are links on it to additional comments you may wish to examine. (The document containing these is in effect Part 2 of the Prep Sheet.)