Short story unit english language arts

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Elements of Fiction

Instructions: Use your textbook to find the definitions for each of the terms listed below. We will discuss each of these elements throughout our short story unit so it is important that you include a definition that makes sense to you. (HINT: If you cannot locate a term, check the index or glossary).




rising action:________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


falling action:________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

resolution (dénouement): _____________________________________________________________







internal conflict:_____________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

external conflict:_____________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

four types of conflict:

1. _______________ 2. _________________ 3. _________________ 4. ________________

point of view:________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • first person limited: _______________________________________________


  • third person limited: _______________________________________________


  • third person omniscient: ____________________________________________


mood:______________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

symbolism:__________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

foreshadowing:______________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


The contrast between what the reader or audience expects and the reality of the situation. Appearance is deceiving when a reader encounters irony.

Types of Literary Irony

1. Verbal Irony: The simplest form of irony. Occurs when a person says something but means the opposite.

  • Sarcasm: A type of verbal irony intended to be cruel and hurtful

  • Pun: A play on words—Getting a kick out of playing soccer.

Example: Parent looks over child’s report card filled with D’s and F’s and says, “Nice to see that you’re taking your grades seriously.”

2. Situational Irony: The contrast between what the reader expects to happen in the story and what is actually happening.

Example: A pirate ship encounters many hardships while looking for treasure. When the treasure is found; it is full of notes warning you not to be greedy.

3. Dramatic Irony: The contrast between what the character in the story knows or wants and what the reader or audience already knows.

Example: A surprise party.


The author’s ability to create and develop characters in the novel; presented in such a way that the characters exist for the reader’s imagination within context of the story.

Four Methods of Characterization

1. Physical Appearance: The author describes the physical features and manners of a character. From these details we can often guess what the character’s personality is like.

2. Speech and Thought: A character reveals something about their nature through the things that they say or by the thoughts that they have. Feelings and emotions may be included in this.

3. Direct Action: Actions tend to speak louder than words. A character’s actions in a story reveals details about who they are.

4. Narrator Comments: When the author uses this technique of characterization, the narrator directly states a character’s physical, personal, emotional, etc… traits. Example: “her face was as ugly as her heart was hard.”

Degree of Character Development
1. Simple (flat): A character with only a few qualities that represents a particular attitude or idea

2. Complex (round): A character who is realist because she possesses a complete personality

Button, Button” by Richard Matheson

Discussion Questions

1. What do you predict this story will be about?

2. Norma asks if the “whatchamacallit” is valuable. What does this say about her character?

3. What will the Lewises receive if they push the button? Is this worth it?

4. What is Arthur’s character like when asked to think about the gadget? How do you know this (text evidence)?

5. How are Norma and Arthur different in their perspectives to Mr. Steward’s bargain?

6. What type(s) of conflict is presented in this story? How do you think it will be resolved?

7. Why are the deaths of people far away much easier than those who are closest to us?

8. What does Norma want to do with the money?

9. What kind of research project might Mr. Steward and his company be conducting in Norma’s point of view?

10. What is the climax of this story?

11. How is the ending of the story ironic?

12. Mr. Steward asks Norma if she thinks she really knew her husband. Do you think she did? Explain.

13. Overall, what are your impressions of this story? Did you find this powerful? Explain your answer.

14. Considering human nature, what do you think is more likely to occur—people pushing the button, or people leaving it alone? Why?

15. What would you have done if you were Norma? Do you think she made the right choice? Explain why or why not.

16. Why does Norma really push the button? What reasons does she give to justify it?

17. What is the theme of this story?

Button, Button”: Venn Diagram

Instructions: Today you will be watching a short video called “Button, Button” based on the short story that we read in class. While watching, complete the venn diagram comparing the video and the story. Consider characters, plot, conflict, mood, as well as other literary elements that we discussed in class.



I. Vocabulary: Before reading, define the following words and understand them when they appear in the story or class discussion.









Based on these words, what do you predict this story will be about? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. Literary Elements: While reading, complete the chart below.





Point of View:

Rising Action:


Falling Action:



The Sniper”: Quick Write

Instructions: Choose one of the prompts listed below. Your response should be at least two paragraphs. Be sure to answer the question thoroughly, using details from the text to support your ideas.

  • Option One:

Assuming the role of the main character, write a letter to your parents informing them of your brother’s death.

  • Option Two:

What will be the consequences for the main character’s actions? What do you think is in store for the sniper socially, emotionally, and personally?

  • Option Three:

Compare/contrast “The Sniper” to “Button, Button”. Both stories involve a main character who makes the conscious decision to kill. What similarities/differences exist between the choices these characters make? Is one character more to blame/less to blame than the other? Do you feel sympathy for either character?

Literature Circle: “The Lottery”

What is a Literature Circle?

Literature Circles provides you with an opportunity to reflect upon what you have read, as well as to contribute to the overall meaning of the text. Furthermore, the literature circle encourages you to narrow your focus, as each group member is responsible for one specific role.

Literature Circles afford each group member the occasion to “try out a new role,” i.e. one session you might fulfill the role of summarizer, whereas at another session you would assume the title of motif hunter, etc. Groups will continue to cycle through the roles indicated below until each has moved full “circle.”

Literature Circle Roles and Descriptions:

Summarizer - As the summarizer, it is your job to identify and subsequently recount the major events that take place within the designated chapter(s). You’ll want to be certain to lend specific detail and elaboration where necessary. Please record at least one significant direct quote.

Motif Hunter - As the motif hunter, you are responsible for identifying any motif(s) within the designated chapter(s). You are to explain how the motif (recurring image, theme or subject) is demonstrated and/or supported.

Character Sketch/Analysis - Provide a description of any new character(s) introduced within the assigned chapter(s). Consider the following items when classifying each character: physical description, personality traits, relation to other characters, role within the story, noticeable change/evolution and any memorable event in which the character is involved. If no new character is introduced, focus on a character not previously highlighted. Special attention should be paid to character development (change over time).

Artist - As the artist, you are responsible for bringing to life some aspect of the chapter(s). You are to determine the means of expression (i.e. drawing, painting, collage, poster, poem, song) by which to creatively portray a memorable scene from the novel.

Connector / CommentatorAs the connector / commentator, it is your job to draw a comparison between what is happening in the book and something outside the text. This connection may be to a current or historical event, another story you have read, or movie/TV show you have seen. In addition, you might personally connect with a scene and/or character, in which case you can describe how you are like that specific character (i.e. endured a similar hardship, etc.).

Finally, make an evaluative comment on the plot, character(s), motif(s), or theme(s). Other group members should follow.

The Lottery: group talk

Instructions: Today with your group members, you will talk about the topics listed below. These questions are open-ended and are meant to engage your group in some deep discussion. Please jot down some notes before meeting with your groups so that you are prepared to contribute to the conversation.

Topic #1: Choices

In the short story “The Lottery” we see a town of people who make a choice to follow a tradition rather than to question their society. Do you feel that they are making the right choice? Why or why not? What would you personally do in this situation?

Topic #2: Real Connections

Think about what happened in this story. Do things like this ever happen in real life? Do we ever sit back and allow something bad to happen because other people are doing it? Does this story remind you of anything that happened in history?* (*Hint: a society using scapegoats/killing innocent people without just cause?)

Topic #3: Changing Tradition

What would happen if one person tried to change a tradition like this? How difficult/easy is it to do? What consequences could arise?

THE LOTTERY” by Shirley jackson

Writing Assignment

OBJECTIVE: In your response journal, you will compose a piece of writing which both exhibits an understanding of the story we read in class as well as the concept of mood and point of view.

DIRECTIONS: After reading the story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, respond to ONE of the following prompts. Your response should be at least two paragraphs and reference details from the text.

  • Option One:

Months after the annual lottery there is some unrest in the town; many of the young people are questioning the need for such a custom. Acting as the mayor, write a formal letter to the townspeople explaining the need for this tradition and your supporting logic.

  • Option Two:

You are the pastor of the community church. After a great deal of consideration and prayer, you have decided that you are morally opposed to the lottery. This coming Sunday you plan to address your congregation in the hopes of persuading them to join you in your crusade to stop this barbaric custom. Craft your sermon and explain why they must join you.

  • Option Three:

Several months have passed since the lottery and you have finally stopped to think about the absence of your mother. Write a journal entry detailing your feelings as Nancy, Tessie Hutchinson’s daughter.

The Most Dangerous Game”

by Richard Connell

Instructions: Answer the questions below while reading the short story. Please use complete sentences.

  1. What indication do you receive in the beginning of this story that something bad will happen?

  1. What is Whitney like? What is Rainsford like?

  1. What conflicted is presented by the bottom of page 2? Describe this.

  1. What is General Zaroff like?

  1. Why had hunting begun to bore Zaroff? Did you have an inclination what he might like to hunt? Explain.

  1. What is the theme of this story?

  1. What conflict is presented when Rainsford learns Zaroff murders? Explain.

  1. How does the General get the men on the island?

  1. As you read through this story and you knew that Rainsford would be hunted like an animal, what feelings/thoughts/etc. went through your mind?

  1. What would you have done if you were in Rainsford’s position?

  1. What conflict is presented as Rainsford goes into the jungle and tries to reason with himself? Explain.

  1. What 3 traps does Rainsford make for the General? Describe each one.

  1. What does “he lived a year in a minute” mean? (page 10).

  1. What did you think of the ending?

  1. Is Rainsford a static or dynamic character? Explain.

  1. Before reading this story, what did you think of hunting? Now that you have finished reading this story, what do you think of it?

  1. How does this story give us a great example of human nature, its evils and its competitive need?



Instructions: Consider the ways an author can convey information about characters to readers. Analyze the way the author does this throughout “The Most Dangerous Game” by choosing one character and listing four ways the author provides additional information about this character.

Review: What are the 4 methods of characterization?





Find one example of each type of characterization for one character in the story. Use specific quotes with appropriate citations included.

Character: ________________________________________________________________________


#1 ____________________:

#2: ___________________:



The Most Dangerous Game” Movie

Instructions: During our short story unit, we have been discussing our essential question about choices and how they impact us. While watching the “Most Dangerous Game”, consider three choices made by one of the characters in the story. Determine the impact of the choice and whether or not the character made the right decision. Use complete sentences and explain your ideas.

Character: ___________________________________________________________________


In “Button, Button”, Norma made the choice to press the button.





This choice impacted her because her husband was killed. She got the money she was promised; however, her husband died as a result of this decision.


EXAMPLE: Norma made the wrong choice. Not only did this choice result in the death of her husband, but it showed that she values money more than doing the right thing.

The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst

Questions for Discussion

Instructions: Answer the questions below before, during, and after your reading of the text. As always, please use complete sentences.

Before Reading:

1. What is a symbol? What does it mean to say that something is symbolic?

2. What does the color red symbolize?

3. What is a “scarlet ibis”?

During Reading:

1. Complete the chart below





Point of View

Rising Action


Falling Action



The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst

Questions for Discussion

After Reading:

1. How does Brother characterize Doodle in the beginning of the story?

2. Why is Doodle seen as a disappointment?

3. Why did Brother choose to rename William Armstrong as “Doodle”?

4. Why does Brother feel that Doodle is a burden?

5. What does Brother do to Doodle that shows cruelty? What is Doodle’s reaction to Brother’s cruelty?

6. Why did Brother teach Doodle to walk?

7. On page 616-617, the narrator describes a bird. What is this bird called and what is unusual about it?

8. Why do you think Doodle is so compassionate towards the bird?

9. When Brother and Doodle go to Horsehead Landing (towards the end of the story), what is the mood of the story? How does this change from the beginning of the book?

10. When it begins to rain, Doodle falls behind and asks for Brother to wait. What does Brother do and why do you think he does this?

11. What does Brother discover when he returns for Doodle?

12. How is the description of Doodle at the end of the story similar to the description of the scarlet ibis?

13. Do you think the narrator was responsible for what happened to Doodle? Explain your answer.

14. Look at the last paragraph on page 616, “The bird croaked loudly…” How does the bird act as a symbol for this story?

15. Describe an example of foreshadowing in the story.

The Scarlet Ibis” By James Hurst

Instructions: Complete the chart below. Find five (5) examples of foreshadowing from the text. Include the page where you found each example and use a direct quote.

Page #


Foreshadowed Event

The Scarlet Ibis” QUOTE ANALYSIS

Review the quotes below from “The Scarlet Ibis”. For each quote, please indentify:

a) What is the meaning of the quote?
b) How does this quote connect to the text?
c) How does this quote connect to your life or life in general?

Quote #1: “There is within me (and with sadness I have watched in others) a knot of cruelty borne by the stream of love” (Hurst 612).

Quote #2: “I did not know then that pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death” (Hurst 613).

The Necklace” by Guy De Maupassant

Instructions: Complete the chart below while we read the short story together in class.

Character Name

Character Description




Type of Conflict

Description of Conflict





Irony: _____________________________________________________________________________
Theme: _____________________________________________________________________________

The Lady or the Tiger?

By Frank R. Stockton

Discussion Questions

1. Before reading, please define the following vocabulary words: untrammeled, exuberant, genial, epithalamic, aesthetic, moiety, fervid, parapet.

2. In this story, what system is used to determine a person’s guilt or innocence?
3. Did the people approve of this system or disapprove? Explain why.

4. What crime was the young man accused of committing?

5. What secret does the Princess know?

6. What conflict is the Princess experiencing in this story? Is this an internal or external conflict?

7. In what point of view is this story told?

8. In your opinion, which came out of the opened door—the lady, or the tiger?

9. If you were the Princess, which door would you have signaled towards—the lady, or the tiger?

10. On a separate sheet of paper, write an alternate ending to this story. First, decide which door is chosen. Next, write the final part of this story.

Character Dialogue

Instructions: Today, you will work with a partner to write and act out a dialogue between two characters we have read about during our short story unit so far. You will use your creativity as well as what you already know about the characters to write a scene in which the two characters meet and face a conflict. It is your decision, as the author, to determine how they resolve the conflict. Remember to write your dialogue as a script and be prepared to perform it at the end of today’s class.


1. Choose two characters that we have read about so far. You may use suggestions from the list below:

-Mme. Loisel (“The Necklace”) -Norma (“Button Button”)

-M. Loisel (“The Necklace”) -Arthur (“Button Button”)

-Mme. Forestier (“The Necklace”) -Old Man Warner (“The Lottery”)

-Rainsford (“The Most Dangerous Game”) - The Sniper (“The Sniper”)

-General Zaroff (“The Most Dangerous Game”) -Tessie Hutchinson (“The Lottery”)

-The Princess (“The Lady, or the Tiger?”) -Old Man Warner (“The Lottery”)

2. Determine the conflict for your story. You may choose your own conflict, or select from the list below:
-Two characters arrive at a birthday party and realize they bought the same gift.

-Two characters are babysitting but cannot get the baby to stop crying.

-Two characters are walking into class. One forgot to study for the final exam.

-Two characters are at a football game but are fans of opposing teams.

-Two characters find a wallet on the street. It is full of cash but has no ID inside.

-Two characters who wear the same size shoe realize that they both want to buy the same pair of shoes. Only one pair is left at the store.

3. Select your setting, theme, mood, and plot. Feel free to use the space below to help you organize your ideas before you begin writing.







Short Story Test Review
Part I: Identify the Quote
Read each quote below. For each,

1) Determine the speaker of the quote

2) Explain the context/meaning of the quote

3) Describe why the quote is significant in terms of the theme of the story

1. “The Most Dangerous Game”

  • The world is made up of two classes - the hunters and the huntees.”

2. “The Scarlet Ibis”

  • Pride is a wonderful terrible thing a seed that bears two vines life and death.”

3. “The Lottery”

  • "Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones."

4. “The Sniper”

  • Then the sniper turned over the dead body and looked into his brother's face.”

5. “Button, Button”

  • “‘My dear lady’, Mr. Steward said. ‘Do you think you really knew your husband?’”

Part 2: Elements of Fiction


4. A lesson or moral gained from a story

7. A hint of something that happens later in the story

8. The end of the story that shows how a problem ends

9. This type of character changes throughout a story

10. The time and place of a story

11. The feeling or atmosphere of a story


1. The main character

2. The way the narrator looks at a story

3. A series of events or things that happen in a story

5. The beginning of the story where background information is provided

6. A problem

9. The turning point of a story

10. Something that stands for something else

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