CLASS: SENIOR ONE
UNIT I: INTRODUCTION TO LITERARY GENRES: FICTION AND NON-FICTION
UNIT II: INTRODUCTION TO PROSE: PLOT, SETTING & CHARACTERS
UNIT III: INTRODUCTION TO POETRY
UNIT IV: THEMES AND MESSAGES IN POETRY
UNIT V: LANGUAGE USE IN POETRY
UNIT VI: INTRODUCTION TO DRAMA
UNIT VII: KEY ASPECTS OF DRAMA
UNIT II: INTRODUCTION TO PROSE: PLOT, SETTING AND CHARACTERS
II.1. DEFINITION OF PROSE
Prose is a form of writing that is natural and uses grammatical structure. Most forms of writing and speaking are done in prose. It is the most common form of writing. It is usually straightforward and may utilize figurative language. Prose examples include novels, novellas, short stories, journalism, academic writing and regular conversations.
II.2. KEY ASPECTS OF PROSE
Key aspects of prose are the basic elements on which the story is built upon. They give answers to the following questions:
Who is the story about?
Where is the story taking place?
What is the main problem of the story?
Those key elements of prose are: – Plot, setting, characters
Plot refers to the way events or actions of a story are arranged, especially the way they relate to each other in a cause and effect manner. In short, plot is the cause and effect arrangement of the actions or events in a story.
Plot can also be: -The order of events in a story.
-The sequence of events in a story.
-The succession of events in a story.
-The arrangement of events in a story.
The plot is a planned, logical series of events having a beginning, middle, and an end.
The parts/elements of a plot
Exposition/introduction: It is the opening/beginning of a story where the characters and setting are revealed. Sometimes the main conflict is also introduced here.
Rising action: This is where the events in the story become complex. The conflict is revealed at this stage (events between introduction and climax).
Climax: It is the highest point of interest, tension and suspense. It is the turning point of the story where the reader questions what will happen next.
Falling action: At this stage the events and conflicts/complications begin to resolve. Events show the results of how the characters begin to resolve the conflict.
Resolution/ denouement: The part of the plot that concludes the falling action by revealing or suggesting the outcome of the conflict. It is the end of the story.
Setting refers to the place and time at which the events of a story take place. It answers the questions of where and when. The time and place can be real or imaginary.
Time: When the story is happening:
Ex: 9h00’ A.M, during the night, on Monday, in August, in 1994, Before Christ, precolonial period, colonial period, post-colonial period, post independence era, post genocide period, during 20th century,…
Place: Where the story is happening.
EX: In a garden, in a sea, inside the house, at Muyumbu, in Rwanda, in Nyungwe Forest, at school,….
Context: It can be set in a social and cultural setting.
Ex: In urban environment as in Kigali, in a traditional African society,…
A character refers to the fictional human being, animal or thing in a story. The character is any person, animal or figure represented in a literary work. Characters are central figures on which the action of the plot happens.
Types of characters
Main/major/central characters: They are characters that play a big role in the story. Most of the actions in the story happen around these characters. The plot and resolution of the conflict revolves around them.
Protagonist: A protagonist is a main character who is faced with problem/conflict he must resolve. He is a main character who has good behaviours. He is considered as a hero.
Antagonist: An antagonist is a main character who usually challenges the protagonist or test him/her. He/she is a main character who has bad behaviours. He/she is also considered as a villain.
Main characters are well developed which makes us to know more about them and we can relate to them.
Minor characters: They are characters that do not play a big role in the story. They are characters that support/help or serve to complement the main ones and help move the plot events forward.
Characters can also categorised as:
Positive characters: They are characters that show positive /good qualities or behaviours. They can be brave, hardworking, caring, humble, peaceful,…
Negative characters: They are characters that show negative/bad qualities/behaviours. They can be wicked cruel, wicked, brutal, lazy, revengeful,…..
Characterization refers to the author’s representation and development of characters in the story. While talking characterization, we should note that:
Dynamic character is a character who changes over time.
Static character is a character who doesn’t change over time.
Round character is a character that has a complex personality.
Flat character is a character that is neither conflicted nor contradictory. He//she doesn’t change and the story doesn’t reveal much about him.
How to identify characters
In studying a short story, novel,…we need to identify and know the characters very well. In order to identify them we look at:
-The physical description of a character in terms of size, colour, and general appearance.
-What the character says about him/herself and about other issues affecting the society.
-The character’s actions in his/her interactions with other characters in the society.
-What other characters in the story say about him/her.
-The character’s thoughts, desires, dreams and wishes.
How to identify characters and explain their behaviours
In order to describe characters, we use adjectives. A character may be described in many ways such as:
Good, bad, funny, lazy, ugly, rude, hardworking, polite, beautiful, kind, careless, honest, etc
The author creates different characters and has to show what makes a character behave the way he/she does or why he/she behaves in that way and how his/her behaviours affect others.