Chapter One: Scene, Episode, and Plot Arthur Conan Doyle, “a scandal in Bohemia”



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Chapter One: Scene, Episode, and Plot

Arthur Conan Doyle, “A Scandal in Bohemia”


  1. Why does Doyle begin his story with the line: “To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman?” What literary technique is Doyle drawing on in this piece?

  2. Identify at least one episode in the story that serves to further the plot of the story. For example, early in the story, Watson finds his way to Baker Street where he reunites with his old friend Sherlock Holmes. Within a few lines, Holmes displays his skills at observation by making deducing details about Watson’s married life from his appearance. Find another moment such as this one which helps further the plot.

  3. What point in the story would you identify as the climax? Is it when Holmes tricks Irene Norton by pretending that her home is on fire, or the moment when Holmes receives her letter? Why?


Don Lee, “The Price of Eggs in China”

  1. The story opens with Dean Kaneshiro arriving at Oriental Hair Poet No. 2’s house. What is the function of this scene? How and when do we find out why Dean gives Marcella Ahn this title?

  2. What function does the scene in which Marcella Ahn comes to Dean and Caroline’s house serve? What new information does Marcella reveal about Dean and how does this information move the plot forward?

  3. At the story’s conclusion, Dean and Caroline are still romantically involved, yet neither has revealed their secret to the other person. What kind of ending is this? Is it satisfying? Why or why not?

E.A. Robinson’s “Richard Cory” Robert Frost “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, and Aron Keesbury, “On the Robbery Across the Street.”

The last stanza of each of these poems might be described as the climax of the poem, but in many ways, the plot remains unresolved. For example, in Frost’s poem, we wonder what “promises” the speaker has that keep him from exploring the lovely, dark woods. We wonder what torments Richard Cory, and we are confused as to what the young man who encountered the eyewitness actually did. Consider the last stanza of each poem and discuss the ways in which the poets create an open-ended plot. Do we have any sense that these endings are coming when we begin reading the poem? Why or why not?

Emily Dickinson’s “A Route of Evanescence,” and [I like to see it lap the Miles], William Stafford’s “Traveling through the Dark,” and Muriel Rukeyeser, “Myth”

The plots of these poems seem to end with a climax; there is no denouement. The journey that the speaker takes us on ends with closure: the hummingbird moves on, the river arrives at its destination, the doe is pushed into the river, and Oedipus realizes his folly. Review each poem and explore the affect of ending a plot at a climactic moment. What similar affects to these poets achieve by using this technique?


Sophocles, “Oedipus the King”

  1. Throughout the play characters foreshadow the plot. For example, as the play opens and Oedipus welcomes the Priest he proclaims: “You can trust me; I am ready to help,/ I’ll do anything. I would be blind to misery/not to pity my people kneeling at my feet.” These lines foreshadows that Oedipus will blind himself because he cannot bear the truth that he has caused so much misery. Can you identify at least two other examples?

  2. Locate the Chorus’s speech beginning in stanza 955. What literary element does this section of the play demonstrate? What themes of the play are developed in this speech? What function does this speech serve as a whole?
  3. Locate the scene between the Messenger and the Leader. First, identify the literary elements that are demonstrated in this scene. Consider the function of the scene. What information is revealed? Why does Sophocles choose to use the Messenger and the Leader to reveal this information?

  4. Oedipus plays the role of detective in his own life and seeks the truth. What are the consequences of Oedipus’s detective work? What broader meaning do you think Sophocles is trying to convey?





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