The theme and personal impressions of the story

The theme of a story is like unifying general idea about life that the entire story reveals. The author rarely
gives a direct statement of the theme in a story. It is up to the reader to collect and combine all his
observations and finally to try to formulate the idea illustrated by the story. The most important
generalization is sometimes referred to as the message. The message depends on the writer's outlook, and
the reader may either share it or not.

There are no hard and fast rules about text interpretation but one is usually expected to sum up the contents and express his overall view of the story.

The reader may (enjoy the story, be favourably impressed by side with the author completely on assumption that, share his views, not see eye to eye with the author, resent smth.. asses highly, not think much, object to the idea.



Where is the scene laid? When do the events described in the book take place? Who are the characters of the
book? What are their names and appearance? Do their speech characteristics help understand them better?
What are the bare facts of the story? What is the exposition, complication, climax and denouement? Is the end
clear-cut and conclusive or does it leave room for suggestion? On what note does the story end? Is the plot of
major or minor importance? Who tells the story? Is the narrative factual / dry/ emotional? Are the events
credible or melodramatic?

Are the characters credible? With what main problem is the protagonist faced? Is it a conflict with another individual /with society/ within himself? How does the characters reveal themselves or change as the plot develops? Does the narrator sympathize with the characters / remains aloof' and detached? Are the characters masters of their fate or victims of circumstances? What was the conflict and how was it solved, if at all? Does the author raise questions? Does he try to solve them or does he leave it to the readers to do it? What is the general tone of the story? What is the general tone of the story? What attitude to life does the story express?

What conclusion about life and people does the story lead to? How much does the story help readers understand human nature and psychology of people, the nature of conflicts they face?




1.The author, his works, problems

- to rank among outstanding writers...

- to belong to realistic (modern…) school…

- to deal with the problem of war and peace

- to bring out a problem of vices of society

- to probe into the problem of personal relations in a pragmatic society

- a fate of an artist

- the little man

- social problems

- some painful problems

- degradation of a man

- conflict of generations

- frustration of a creative man in a pragmatic world

- to ridicule some aspects of (American life)

- the personality of the author.and his life experience influence the subject of his works and the way it is treated

-the author is known for the depth and.subtlety of his psychological portraits

- to be known for the peculiar sense of humour

- his/her satire is directed against the mediocre, the conventional, the common


- his/her style is famous for its closeness to the sound of live speech

- to be appreciated mainly for short stories

- to feel keenly and to respond to the most urgent social issues of

- to subdue tones and colours and to leave one's main message in implication

- with irony, sad compassion, keen understanding he reveals in his novels and stories the modes and manners of the changing world all its excitements and frustrations

- his/her works deal with hopelessness of life brought about by age, loss of love, sickness, financial and moral disasters

- to be a conscious stylist carefully selecting the most appropriate means to convey the true characters of the personages and also his/her view on them

- a shrewd observer, the author deeply penetrates into the problems

2. The book: the problems, the main conflict of the book

man against man

man. against environment (nature, fate, society…)

man against himself

3.The place of the particular extract in the book, his importance, the author's message

the extract may present:

- description of the character's relations

- psychological portrait

- narration of events

- description of the main character in a crisis

- the climax of the story showing:

- the character's meditations on… making it possible for the reader to see the inner world of the character

- the description of nature (it may serve as a background of the character's thoughts, may show a glaring contrast between the feelings of the character and the harmony of nature


the extract may deal with the painful search for values

- to be devoted to one of basic problems of man's life - what is true and what is false about such notions as honesty, honour, dignity

- to focus on the theme of...

- the story touches upon very significant problems (many sides of human relationships)

- the background of the story is…

- to reveal through a particular event a painful social conflict

- to deal with poverty, destitutions, and hopelessness of the conditions under which Black Americans live more than a century after slavery was abolished and they were granted freedom and equality

- to bring out a problem of….

4. The structure

- to fall into… parts

- to consist of …distinct parts

5. The retelling of the extract

the plot runs as follows …

by way of (introduction, protest…)

6. The sort of the interpretation of the text:

1) the point of view from which the story is written – on behalf of…

- unusual polyphonic narration (different voices are heard) - the story is entrusted to the naïve narrator (a child) who can observe all the facts but cannot join them into a cause-affect sequence

- the story, told in the 1st person singular produces the impression on an authentic monologue

Advantages: sincere, credible, emotional, convincing, objective, naïve, touching, non-committal

Disadvantages: inconvincing, improbable, subjective, ignorant of smth, prejudice

2) the development of the plot, the form of the story:

a description: of a place, circumstances, character, of the mood in connection with some events, meditations, nature

a narration: dynamic, events develop swiftly, fast, slowly

a dialogue: reserved. full of implications, lively, natural, true to life, sentimental, artificial, etc.

the speech, the character may reveal: his background (education, upbringing, social status…)

the characters: sincere, reserved, friendly, ironic, outspoken, witty, quick-tempered.

the character's psychological make-up, his mood: happy, miserable, resentful, indignant, on the point of tears, in despair, frustrated, etc…

interrupted by bits of …

the conversation plays an important part in the story because the manner in which each person speaks suggests his character (state of mind)

there is no dynamism in the movement of the plot

3) the character drawing: of high (low) integrity…

determination of character

a man of strong will

a romantic nature

intelligent, smart, neat, bright, resourceful, full of ideas, brave, to have a perfect control of, sincere, quick-witted, just, cruel,

depth of feeling, subtlety of mind, compassion

sympathy, pride, unconquerable spirit

profound inside, guilty conscience

ignorance, obstinacy, snobbery, hypocrisy

brutality, shallowness, indifference

inability to cope with …, as a smart

to offer explicit (implicit) characterization


- the author describes the character in detail but does not pass judgement on him and to reveal his standpoint we consider elements of various of the text structure which are expressive in this aspect

- the past of the character, the desires motivating his behaviour are given alongside with his actions

the character is rough and tough at first sight

the character proves to be inwardly insecure and vulnerable

- the story shows this confrontation and independence of the outward and inward

- the author's bitterness and frustration, disillusionment and hopelessness when he thinks about… are mingled with sympathy, understanding and compassion

- psychological condition of the character is evident in his speech characteristics though is not judged by the author, her characteristics can be assembled from her actions, thoughts, remarks, the author condemns her (sympathises with her)

- in the story we see no open evaluation given by the author, but we are quick to understand that his affections and concerns with his characters

- the character (his feelings, emotions) is described most elaborately his past and present life, his thoughts and emotions are made clear

- he is put into the most significant position to convey the writer's message

- the change of weather from … to … creates a contrast which stresses the conflict between the character's desires of peace and rest and his will to act and live

- to act in (out of) character

- the character is given statistically (in development)


4) The general tone, the way time is treated: matter-of-fact, humorous, ironic, sarcastic, poetic, romantic, dramatic, tragic, sad, bitter, pessimistic, nostalgic.


5) Linguistic analysis

to resort to a number of expressive means and stylistic devices

to achieve … effect, to convey the author's message

to contribute to the idea of

a) syntax:

in description – more complicated; compound sentences with subordinate clauses of; complex sentences involving a number of clauses serve to give the detailed description of the character's state of mind (misery, fear, anger, hostility, despair, guiltiness, confusion)


to make the description more associative the author makes use of …


in narration the syntax is more simple

- the abundance of verbs denotes quick actions (fast)

- the narration is syntactically complicated, it contains compound sentences involving numerous clauses

- the manner of narration is objectively neutral, still, it is possible to say that the author condemns the situation as there are indications to that in the syntax (vocabulary, composition)

in conversation the colloquial character is kept up (sustained) both in the syntactical and lexical levels

- the dialogue is full of implications and understatements

- the writer reflects the norms of colloquial speech in all its peculiarities - syntax (ellipsis, short sentences), vocabulary (set expressions, repetitions); they allow him to create the effect of naturalness of the conversation

- the abrupt change of sentence length and structure contributes to the expressiveness of the extract

- in the opening sentences with adverbial modifiers the writer draws the reader's attention to the time, place, manner of action which gives reality to the narrated events

- there is a number of language means which stress the opposition between …

- the author resorts to exclamatory and interrogative sentences to show the character's psychological make up; the character is obviously under the stress of very strong emotion

b)lexical level:

- the choice of means is predetermined by the general tone and the message the author is trying to convey

- expressing his attitude to the character the author uses the semantic group of words to show what … is like

- the author's viewpoint is realized in the text through the choice of the vocabulary to form implication and through the arrangement of compositional elements

- to make the description colourful the author uses simple (sustained) metaphors, similes, epithets

- the choice of the appropriate words and sentence patterns determined the emotional impact the story has on the reader

- the author's individuality is clearly revealed through his particular devotion to certain stylistic means and their arrangement


6) title – suggestive

- misleading

- based on the author's message

7) personal impressions: to enjoy the story (for several reasons)

to be favourably impressed by

to do the author justice

to side with the author completely on the assumption that …

to share his views

to touch on a sensitive problem

to be of educational value

pure entertainment: not to see eye to eye with the author

to resent smth

to assess highly

not to think much

to object to the idea


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