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Friday, April 27, 2012

Sample classroom literature lesson: the abstract and technical analysis of a story

What makes this article locally interesting is that during the important school events, a group of secondary school teachers convened and ostensibly made a "unified format in teaching the abstract and technical analysis" of a story as shown below.

The core in story-and-drama-analysis stems from a local interest story of personal experiences based on literary works in Philippine literature. There are full-length interpretative analyses in story-plot, drama-synopsis and other fictional and nonfictional literary pieces. Interpolated herewith are thus compacted information and functions of abstract and technical analysis.

I will give a sample of a topic outline regarding the abstract and technical analysis in Philippine context. It will serve as a guide for the teachers and students in analyzing the plot, theme, point of view, story interpretation, symbolism and allegory, form and structure, and moral of the story. Here is the topic outline:

II. Technical Analysis
A. Plot
1. Exposition
2. Involution
3. Climax
4. Falling Action
5. Denouement

The abstract and technical analysis are just the benchmarks in analyzing a particular literary piece, either that literary piece is a short story, a novel or a drama. If you want to expand the level of interpretation and the level of higher thinking skills, you may use additional literary parts to come by clearer and more emphasized technically-analyzed stories.

This is a modern approach to study literature because the readers get pleasure and contentment in entering a new world so diverse from our present world. The readers obtain pleasure of reading and they obtain pleasure of having their emotions and imaginations stimulated.

Most significantly, however, they come to know the nature of man. As a matter of fact, man has a dual nature: he is a dreamer of dreams and a doer of deeds. His dreams and aspirations are jotted down for documentation and his accomplishments are recorded at the same time. And when this is done in vogue which is beyond mere statement of facts, then it becomes literature.

For literature is history in itself, it further points out the literary works which help in pronouncing to us, especially in all aspects of human life. The Filipino has a passion for the true, the good and the beautiful. In Philippine literature concepts, I would like to share with you the published statements and I reprint: "Man can find it in the sanctuary of Mother Nature." Truth and goodness prevail in all aspects of human life. In his beatific faith and vision, in his love relationships, in his rationalized convictions, man discovers beauty, truth, and virtue. Despite the manifestations of evil, life is fundamentally good.

All these things or scenarios are sustained by human experiences throughout the world. To reiterate, literature is history in itself because it records man's life--everything about him is part of literary works that must be depicted throughout the analytic duration of study. To expand more of the story as far as technical analysis is concerned, here are the additional but optional devices and genres to entail further in the study for in-depth analysis:

B. Theme
C. Point of View
1. First Person Point of View
2. Second Person Point of View
3. Third Person Point of View
a. Limited Point of View
b. Central Point of View
c. Omniscient Point of View
D. Story Levels of Interpretation
1. Literal Level
2. Interpretative Level
3. Evaluative Level
E. Symbolism and Allegory
F. Form and Structure
G. Moral of the Story
H. Questions with Answers
I. Schema of the Story
J. Relevance to Education
K. Justification
To give important values of abstract and technical analysis in analyzing a story, explanations are herein provided for clarity, emphasis and helpful guides to determine the uses and functions of each part.

Abstract should be written in a third person point of view (see example of the abstract in the 3rd person point of view on the other page below). It is a shortened version of a longer piece of writing that highlights the major points covered, briefly depicting the content and scope of writing, and reviews the writing's contents in encapsulated form. It is not long and it is only about a paragraph. Six sentences are enough for writing an abstract.

Technical analysis refers to thinking in a conditioned pattern analyzing comprehensively the uses and functions of the plotted parts of the story. It is the study of literary charts and indicators to determine the progress and chronological order of the story with the use of plotted schema and techniques to examine various aspects of literary levels of interpretation.

Plot is the story line or the structure of a story. It is a series of meaningful events in the story like for example, you have the exposition where all the characters, setting, language and style are recognized and you find the involution or rising action where it may raise to another part and then there is the climax which is where the excitement or interest takes place which where they work out the problem and second to last there is the falling action which commences by degrees to end the story and last there is the denouement or resolution which ends the story.

Exposition is the background information on the characters, setting, language and style explained at the beginning of the story. It will often have information about events that transpired before the story commenced. It is often the very first part of the plot.

Involution of a story is the series of events that build up and create rising action or tension. This tension is an outcome of the fundamental conflict that exists and makes the story interesting. The types of conflict are man vs. nature, man vs. man, man vs. society, man vs. God and man vs. himself.

Climax is when the situation or major part finally gets excited and resolved. It is the turning point and it is where something unexpected will occur and things start going to the falling action and resolution of the story.

Falling action is done after the excitement or turning point of an event; the falling action can seem something of an anti-climax and it is the sequence of events that follow the climax and end in the denouement. This is in contrast to the involution which leads up to the plot's climax. It can always be found after the climax when it goes down until it reaches the denouement.

Denouement refers to the events following the climax of a drama or novel in which such a resolution or clarification happens. It is the conclusion or final resolution of a dramatic or narrative plot. Denouement is also the resulting outcome from the events and problems throughout the entire story. The ending part of a story is sad, happy, adventurous, comedic or tragic.

Theme is the notion that becomes apparent to the reader when he comes to the ending part of a story. It is a message, a broad concept or moral of a story wherein the message itself indicates life, society or human nature. It is the insight that is worth-keeping and sharing with in-depth analysis in analyzing a meaningful event of a story. It can also be taken into account as subject of discourse, discussion, meditation or composition to be banked on a story.

Point of view refers to the angle from which a story is told. It is the position which the narrator takes in the story or the perspective from which a speaker recounts a narrative. Every author has a genre in apprising or telling a story. He may use his character to relate the incidents or he may tell the story himself. The kinds of point of view are first person point of view, second person point of view, third person point of view (limited, central and omniscient).

Story interpretation is based solely on literal level, interpretative level and evaluative level. It is the act of interpreting something as expressed in an artistic story performance from something denotative and from something metaphorical or evaluative. The portion of a text will be extracted literally from a book and will be expounded on it according to implicit standpoints.

"Symbolism and allegory" has been used by the teachers as artists since the beginning of time. Symbols are used to represent abstract concept instead of a literal meaning. They will point out as regards the importance of a test symbolically and the allegory is something like a comparison or contrast, more on spiritual aspects. In other words, it has moral, social, religious, or political significance, and characters are often personifications of abstract notions. Thus an allegory is a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning. To give more examples of an allegory, say for instance, the apple that Adam receives from Eve is symbolic of the "knowledge of God and Evil" and is thus allegorical. The serpent is often read as an allegory signifying the tempter, or true evil. In the New Testament, the Good Samaritan is an allegory representing the right thinking and compassionate person. This is a precise rhetorical use of an allegory .

Form and structure of a story will determine the overview or perspective of the entire story. Thus, the form can be a comedy, a drama, a narrative or an adventure while the structure is something that recounts and segregates the major events to encapsulate the whole story in a chronological order with prescribed "complete sentences" (from 5 to 10 sentences).

Moral of the story is like giving something, a very important lesson which is extracted implicitly from a book. The moral values are important for the kids to learn: fairytale and happy endings with romance and riches are nice but some family movies and adventures have the best example for bonding together that can further give a moral to the members of the family. Likewise, the story is moral if it is spiritually injected with some values and inspiring lessons--a few sentences to make the teachers and students publicly known. The teacher will give insightful ideas to his students about morality according to the norms of society and vantage points.

In giving the opinions about the story, it is understood that the reader must fathom the story precisely based on the levels of interpretation and the abstract itself. The abstract is not too long and it must be based on the third person point of view with limited six sentences in order to come up with a unified and logical paragraph. In reading a full-length story, the reader must underscore the major points only, especially in a series of meaningful events in the story just to come by what we called synopsis. After getting the gist of the story, the technical story analysis will follow. Make sure that the sequence can't be interchanged in order to have a smooth sailing and orderly manner in expounding on a "rising action or involution" of a story. The readers will only differ in the story levels of interpretation, especially in the plot.

Finally, these are all the devices, techniques and genres in analyzing a story using the technical format and approach. If you think these are helpful, you may press the button for liketo indicate that this article helps you also in fathoming a full-length story. Here are the samples of a story based on the aforecited format guide.

I have two samples of the stories submitted to me by my students in first year level of a science high school.

I. Abstract

Story 1:
In a story entitled "The Piece of String," Maitre Hauchecorne picks up a piece of string that gets him into a mess and a world of troubles where he is also criticized unrelentingly for having picked up a piece of string. He has been blamed for picking up a wallet instead of his small innocent piece of string which eventually leads to his death; consequently, he dies from the "injustice pressure" of society, particularly to his detractors, his enemies. His non-ability to handle not being forgiven also contributes to his death and the people are responsible for Hauchecorne's death because they did not believe him. Monsieur Malandain, Hauchecorne's rival, told the authorities that Hauchecorne had picked up a lost wallet. The mayor questioned him but did not believe that he had picked up a piece of string out of the mud. The mayor said that Hauchecorne could not persuade him that Monsieur Malandain, who is a man of trust, mistook that piece of string for a wallet.

Story 2:
Miss Brill is set at the Jardins Publiques in France. Every Sunday Miss Brill looks forward to getting dressed up and visiting the park where she could enjoy people watching. Her weekly visits to the park are undoubtedly the highlight of her week, bringing her great joy and satisfaction. There are many illusions in this story and it shows three diverse illusions where Miss Brill uses to make her happy and how her reality is shattered at the end of the story by a chance remark.

II. Technical Analysis

A. Plot:
1. Exposition
a. Characters (from story 1):
Maitre Hauchecorne, of Breaute -- a humble peasant
Maitre Malandain -- the harness maker at Goderville
Maitre Houlbreque, of Manneville -- a woman who lost her black leather pocketbook
containing five hundred francs and business papers
Characters (from story 2):
Round characters
--Miss Brill is a middle-aged, unmarried English woman who lives alone in a small apartment in France; she teaches English to students and reads the newspaper to an elderly man several times a week
--The Band
Flat characters
--The young and romantic couple approaches the bench from which Miss Brill is watching the crowd
--The woman in the ermine toque who has been observed by Miss Brill in the park symbolizes the title character herself and her rebuff by a man in a gray suit foreshadowing Miss Brill's rejection later in the story
--gentleman in gray
--boy and girl who sat where the old couple had been staying
--many other passers-by
b. Setting(from story 1):
Place -- it happened at the market place at Goderville
Time -- it took place during "market day" in the afternoon
Setting (from story 2):
Place -- it took place in the little dark room as compared to a cupboard; the beautiful park
Time -- it occurred in the regular Sunday afternoon
c. Language (from story 1) -- modern but British style of English language
Language (from story 2) -- the text is written in the modernist mode
d. Style (from story 1) -- it was a narrative type of story
Style (from story 2) -- the story is written in formal style as Miss Brill presents the interior monologue of a woman on a Sunday trip to the park whose pleasant illusions are shattered when reality infringes on her thoughts

2. Involution (from story 1) -- man vs. man because Maitre Hauchecorne was accused of taking the pocketbook by Maitre Malandain
Involution (from story 2) -- man vs. himself because Miss Brill is struggling in a way that she can be beyond normal and the things what she can do to come by her future

3. Climax (from story 1) -- the turning point was about the next day in the afternoon where Marius Paumelle a farm hand of Maitre Breton, a market gardener at Ymauville returned the pocketbook and its contents to Maitre Holbreque, of Mainneville. This man said, indeed, that he had found it on the road, but not knowing how to read, he had carried it home and given it to his master. The news spread out to the community; Maitre Hauchecorne was informed and he started off at once and began to relate his story up to the end'"he was triumphant!
Climax (from story 2) -- Miss Brill thinks of herself as an actress in a play because it gives a great pleasure as well as exhilaration as she thinks she really is. She thinks of the sky and the park as the set of the play; thus, she believes that all of the park patrons weren't only the audience but also the actors in a great play. When she sees a dog that happens to be walking across the park, she thinks that it is a theatre dog. She also believes that somebody would have noticed if she hadn't been there for her Sunday performance, and she would be greatly missed. Actually, Miss Brill is not an actress instead she is the one that many people are enjoying in the park with their peak of enthusiasm about her.

4. Falling action (from story 1) -- it took place when the rumors circulated that Maitre Hauchecorne gave the wallet to the other man who spread the news to the community. They accused him of having had the pocketbook with him and brought back by an accomplice, by a confederate.
Falling action (from story 2) -- just at that moment, a boy and a girl came and sat down together where the old couple had been staying. They were beautifully dressed and in love. The hero and heroine just arrived from the father's yacht, made that soundlessly singing and that trembling smile. Miss Brill's regret did not stop her from surrendering; her illusions came crashing down around her when a young couple makes a rude remark through Miss Brill's actions'"we see how her fantasy is destroyed.

5. Denouement (from story 1) -- the ending part was melancholic because Maitre Hauchecorne died trying to prove himself "not guilty."
Denouement (from story 2) -- it was somewhat imaginative, mysterious but happy because Miss Brill panned out in passing the baker's by, climbed the stairs, went into the little dark room and sat down on the red eiderdown. She sat there for a long time. The box that the fur came out was on the bed; she unclasped the necklet quickly without looking and laid it inside but when she put the lid on, she thought she heard someone crying.
Continuation from story 1:

B. Theme -- man's innocence
The theme of the story is proving a man's innocence. Don't judge a man if he's guilty or innocent by the way he acts and by the way he looks.

C. Point of view -- the point of view of the story is the first person narrative mode because the narrator addresses the character as "I" and the narrator feels like he is a character in the story.

If you think the article "Philippine literature: abstract and technical analysis" may find it helpful and interesting to you, you can still keep track of the other article "Philippine literature: abstract and technical analysis part 2" as an avenue and a continuation of each part as particularly mentioned in the preceding texts.


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Important Quotes for Teachers

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. ~William Arthur Ward. The best teacher is the one who suggests rather than dogmatizes, and inspires his listener with the wish to teach himself. ~Edward Bulwer-Lytton. A teacher's purpose is not to create students in his own image, but to develop students who can create their own image. ~Author Unknown. What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches. ~Karl Menninger. Teaching should be full of ideas instead of stuffed with facts. ~Author Unknown. The task of the excellent teacher is to stimulate "apparently ordinary" people to unusual effort. The tough problem is not in identifying winners: it is in making winners out of ordinary people. ~K. Patricia Cross


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