Literary terms (prose)
Let us use the story The Little Red Hen to explain the terms (see text on the right).
Character: A person in a work of literature; sometimes an animal or object. In the story The Little Red Hen, the hen is the main character.
Characterization: The portrayal in a story of an imaginary person by what he says and does, by what others say about him or how they react to him, and by what the author reveals directly or through a narrator. In the story The Little Red Hen the hen is described as kind and willing to work through her actions. In the end she also shows that she is just.
Moral: The lesson taught by a literary work. The Little Red Hen tells us that if we want to enjoy something, we have to work hard for it first.
Narrator: The person who tells the story. In The Little Red Hen the narrator is not a part of the story, he only refers to what he observes from outside. In other stories the narrator may be one of the participants in the story.
Plot: The series of events or episodes that make up the action in a work of fiction. In The Little Red Hen the plot is how the hen goes about and asks if the others want to help her, and how she enjoys the fruit of her work alone in the end.
Point of view: The method used by the writer to tell his or her story.
- first person point of view: the narration of a story by the “I” person in the story.
- third person point of view: the narration of a story by someone outside the story. This point of view may be limited to what the narrator can see, know, hear or experience. The third person point of view may also be omniscient, all-knowing. Then the narrator can see into the minds of the characters, and sometimes into the future. Very often the point of views change during the story, especially if it’s a long story like a novel. In The Little Red Hen the narrator is not a part of the story, he only refers to what he observes from outside.
Setting: The time and place in which the events in a work of literature occur. The setting in The Little Red Hen is a farmyard, once upon a time.
Theme: The idea, general truth, or commentary on life or people brought out through a story. The theme in The Little Red Hen may be justice, laziness or that hard work gives reward.