Plot is the arrangement of events in a story. It is different from “story,” which refers to the events in chronological order. An essential part of plot is the relation between each episode, or scene, and the larger conflict that runs through the work. For this reason, it is also important to understand what is meant by conflict (as a literary term).
Conflict is the struggle between the protagonist and the antagonist in a story. The protagonist is the main character, or the character whose struggle is the focus of the story. The antagonist is the obstacle that stands in the protagonist’s way (it may be a person, but it can also be non-human). You may have heard about the following types of conflict: human vs. human, human vs. nature, human vs. society, etc. The “human” is the protagonist; the second term is the antagonist. Conflicts may also be categorized as internal or external. Each episode in a story usually develops the conflict by either complicating it or bringing it closer to resolution.
There are different types of plot. For example, detective stories and tragedies have specific plot structures (you may be familiar with the tragic plot structure, which contains the exposition, the rising action, the climax, falling action, and resolution, or denouement).
This is just a small amount of the information that is contained in the chapter from the textbook. Here are some questions that you might think about in relation to the story and the poem for this week.
Why do events unfold in the order that they do? How does the conflict organize the action?
How does the arrangement of events influence your interpretation? Does the plot create expectations in the reader?
What questions are left open by the text? Why do you think the author chose to leave this information out?
Who is the protagonist? Who is the antagonist? What type of conflict is it?
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