Reading Analysis Questions Personal Response Questions

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Reading Analysis Questions

Personal Response Questions

  • How does the work make you feel? Why?

  • Do you identify with a particular character? Why?

  • Does a character remind you of a person you know? If so, how?

  • What behaviors in the work puzzle you?

  • What personal experiences came to your mind as you read the work? How did you feel about those experiences?

Literary Element Questions


  • What is the main conflict?

  • Is the story in chronological order, or are there flashbacks? If it is not told chronologically, what is the effect of its order on your response to the action?

  • What foreshadowing did you detect when reading the story the first time and when you reread it?

  • Is there a specific event that defines the story?


  • What is the setting of the story?

  • What does the setting contribute to the story?

  • How does the setting define the characters?

  • What setting details are important in the development of the plot?

  • How does the setting relate to the story’s theme?

  • Is the setting symbolic of something else?

  • Is the setting antagonistic to the characters—is it part of the conflict?

  • Could this story be set anywhere else? How would it be changed by a different setting?


  • Who are the principal people in the story, and how do they interact?

  • Who is the protagonist and who is the antagonist?

  • Who are the minor characters, and what do they contribute to the work?
  • What do the characters’ words, thoughts, and actions reveal about their personalities and motivations?

  • How does each character contribute to the development of the plot?

  • How do the characters relate to their setting?

  • Are the characters symbolic—do they seem to stand for something in addition to themselves?

  • Do the characters seem true to life? Or do they seem like stand-ins for ideas?

  • With which characters do you sympathize? Does your response to this character change over the course of the story? If so, what causes the change?

  • Do the characters speak similarly or differently? How would you characterize their speech—is it formal or informal? Does it reflect their geographical origins, education, or class status?

Point of View

  • Who tells the story? Is the narrator a character, or does the narrator stand completely outside the world of the characters in the story?

  • What kind of person is the narrator? Is this person reliable, or does s/he appear to be too emotional, mentally unstable, naïve, ignorant, or biased to be trusted?

  • Why do you think the writer chose this narrator?

  • How does the story’s point of view affect the characterizations? How much does the narrator really know?

  • Does the author comment on the story?

  • How would the story’s effect be similar or different if someone else were the narrator?


  • What is the theme, or underlying meaning, of the story? Is it stated explicitly or developed through some other element?

  • Does this story remind you of anything else, such as a tale, myth, or story by someone else?
  • What passages and details in the work best express the main theme?

  • What does the point of view contribute to the theme?

  • How does the author communicate the theme?

  • What else have you read that has a similar theme?

  • Does the theme challenge your values or reinforce them?

Language/Author’s Style

  • How does the writer’s language affect the work’s tone? How would you characterize its overall effect—light-hearted, mysterious, sentimental, ironic, or objective?

  • How would you describe the word choice—formal or informal? Colorful or plain? Are sentences or lines long and complex, or short and concise?

  • What kinds of imagery does the author use, if any? How does the imagery contribute to the work as a whole?

  • Can you find figures of speech such as metaphors, similes, and personification? How do they contribute to the unity of the work?

  • What is the significance of the work’s title?

  • Are there motifs—repeated words and images? What special meaning do they take on?

  • What symbols, if any, appear in the work? What do they stand for and how do they add to your understanding of the work?

Historical Analysis Questions

  • Are events in the author’s biography reflected in the work?

  • In what ways are the writer’s personal, political, or religious values reflected in the work?

  • Does this work reflect the historical and cultural context in which it is set? Does it fit in or does it conflict with that context?

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