LIT 201: Approaches to Literature
David Updike's "Summer," pp. 316-320
The story is very brief: after your group has selected some questions on which to focus, reread it quickly with those questions in mind. Try to choose two sets of questions.
A. Plot questions: Does "Summer" have a clear beginning, middle and end; does it have clearly demarked rising action and falling action; does it have a climatic moment? Is the plot straightforward or fragmentary (chronological or non-chronological)? What is the conflict in the story and who is its protagonist?
B. Character questions: How realistic are the story's characters? Are they dynamic or static? Which do you identify with the most, and why? What information does Updike provide about the characters, and which does he leave out? What effect do these choices have on you the reader?
C. Setting questions: What is the setting? What details does Updike provide to convey the tone of the setting? How important is the element of setting to your interpretation of the story?
D. Point of View questions: In which person and from which point of view is the story written? How would the story differ if it were told from Sandra's point of view? What information would a fully omniscient narrator give us that we don't get here? Would the story differ significantly if Homer were the first person narrator?
E. Symbolism questions: Consider the following symbols--summer, heat, characters' names, Sherlock Holmes. Any other symbols you can think of? How important is the element of symbolism is your reading of this story?
F. Style, Tone, and Irony questions: Both Jane Austen and David Updike write long sentences; can you, however, find a way in which their styles differ? What is the tone: bitter, nostalgic, ironic, objective, satiric, or some combination of those? What is "irony of situation"; how might Updike be using it here in "Summer?