General Novel Questions
ABOUT STUDYING THE NOVEL:
There are four basic components of the novel --
details of place and
time; atmosphere and mood the course of action including
conflict and climax
the story; tells what is
happening in the novel such as events and experiences of the
person's behavior and developed
author's message; point
about human values implied by the action but not directly stated
supported by the setting and characters
Each component feeds or
supports the other
three to create a unified whole. These components are
interwoven by the author. They all work around and support
concepts of protaganist (main character), conflict involving the
protaganist (part of the plot which helps carry the theme), and
opposing forces (inside and outside the protaganist also support the
theme). At one point, the conflict in the novel reaches a
and the story soon ends.
The study of the novel also includes understanding the structure and
development of the novel, the author's style and use of
and literary devices apparent in the novel such as
Level 1 Questions -
(for the early chapters of the
- What is the time and place of the book?
What evidence in the book tells you this?
and describe the main character in the book. Describe
him/her physically and describe his/her personality and history, if
known. Then give your impression of him/her.
and describe a minor character. Describe her/him
physically and describe her/his personality and history, if
known. Explain how s/he is important to the story and the
of the book.
- Describe the nature of the
relationship between two characters.
Include their history together and details of their relationship.
Explain the significance of their relationship to the book.
- Describe one important event in the book and explain why it
significant to the story (to the plot, the characters, the ideas of the
- Explain one specific aspect of the culture
described in the
book. Tell how it compares to a specific culture you are
- What are your feelings and thoughts about
the novel based on one or more specific things you have read?
- Find one specific idea, event, or behavior in the
book that relates to real life. Explain the relationship you
Level 2 Questions
(for the middle chapters of the book)
- If the time or place switches around during the
book, explain how
and give examples. How does this switching serve the story?
- What is the general feeling or mood of the
book? Give specific examples of how the author creates that
feeling or mood.
- Compare and contrast two
characters psychologically. To do
this, consider their behavior and personality. Consider
their physical selves support or contrast with their psychological
- Choose two from below and explain and
give examples of a conflict
or conflicts between: two people a person and his/her conscience
- a person and society a person
and an animal or nature a person and a spiritual/supernatural being
- Who is the narrator of the story? Is
s/he inside or outside the story? What is her/his relationship to the
- Is the book written in the first or third
person (I or s/he)? How does that affect the story?
- Explain the organization of the book. How it is important to
- What is your reaction to a
relationship, event, socio-cultural
behavior or message/theme of the book? Be clear about what
are reacting to and exactly what makes you respond as you do.
- Choose a sentence or phrase that attracts
you. Explain why you chose it, its value in the book and its
value to you.
Level 3 Questions
(for the final chapters of the book)
- If there is any special language used (dialects,
slang, etc.) give examples and explain its use and purpose.
is its effect?
- Does the author use humor, irony,
symbolism, or metaphors? Give examples and explain the effect.
- What is the peak event, the climax, of the
major conflicts lead up to it and what is the resolution afterward?
- What is the theme or themes in the
novel? How does the
author show this idea? Give evidence. Comment on
theme fits in the novel and how it applies to life outside the
book. What does this theme mean to you?
- What did you learn from this novel? In answering this, you
may comment on any aspect of the novel including how it is