Study of Short Fic!on–Essay #1: Plot Analysis

“A narrative line is in its deeper sense, of course, the tracing out of a meaning, and the real continuity of a story lies in this probing forward.” –Eudora Welty


Write a four page paper in which you analyze the plot of Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour,” Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” or Toni Cade Bambara’s “The Lesson” to explain how the order of events affects our perception of the story. What is the singular effect? You might also comment on what the author chose to include/exclude in his/her narrative.


Developing ideas about a paper on plot is at once simple and elusive. I say simple because it is a relatively easy task to pinpoint the sequence of events of a short story; yet, that is not all there is to it. To emphasize this point, I would like to redraw your attention to the following selection from Literature and Its Writers:

Plot is the sequence of events in a story and their relation to one another. . . . To the casual reader, causation . . . seems to result only from the writer’s organization of the events into a chronological sequence. A more thoughtful reader understands that causation in the plot . . . reveals a good deal about the author’s use of the other elements of fiction as well. (Charters 7) Study of Short Fiction–Essay #1: Plot Analysis 2/1/19, 11’45 AM Page 2 of 4 To continue, with reference to James Hillman, plot reveals human intentions: Plot shows how it all hangs together and makes sense.

Only when a narrative receives inner coherence in terms of the depths of human nature do we have fiction, and for this fiction we have to have plot. . . . To plot is to move from asking the question and then what happened? to the question why did it happen? In other words, an analysis of plot focuses on why the author chooses to isolate and order the events of her story