Learning to analyze a short story isn’t easy. Students require assistance in breaking down a story into its basic elements. Questions most frequently accompanying a short story in a textbook are particular to that story. These may help a student understand that single story, but do not carry over to the next example of short fiction s/he reads. What students need is a set of questions and guidelines that they can apply to every story.
This guide enables students to turn a critical eye to their reading. The questions deal with the basics of short fiction: plot, characterization, setting, point of view, irony, symbols and theme. Each section is prefaced with definitions of the terms used. Students keep the question pages in their notebooks, answering the questions as the teacher advises, whether written in their notebooks or on story photocopies, or orally in discussion groups. As students apply these questions repeatedly to a variety of short stories, they see that the same questions can be utilized for every story. With continued use of the guide to analyze assigned examples of short fiction, students will build on their skills to the point that they no longer require the guidelines at all. The knowledge base they establish will carry over into other forms of literature, especially novels and drama.