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General Novel Questions

General Novel Questions


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 characters


person's behavior and developed personality

author's message;  point of view 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 skillfully interwoven by the author.  They all work around and support the 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 climax 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 language, and literary  devices apparent in the novel such as symbolism.

Level 1 Questions -
(for the early chapters of the book)

  1. What is the time and place of the book?  What evidence in the book tells you this?
  2. Name 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.
  3. Name 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 ideas of the book.
  4. 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.
  5. Describe one important event in the book and explain why it is significant to the story (to the plot, the characters, the ideas of the book).
  6. Explain one specific aspect of the culture described in the book.  Tell how it compares to a specific culture you are familiar with.
  7. What are your feelings and thoughts about the novel based on one or more specific things you have read?
  8. Find one specific idea, event, or behavior in the book that relates to real life. Explain the relationship you see.   

Level 2 Questions -
(for the middle chapters of the book)

  1. If the time or place switches around during the book, explain how and give examples.  How does this switching serve the story?
  2. What is the general feeling or mood of the book?  Give specific examples of how the author creates that feeling or mood.
  3. Compare and contrast two characters psychologically.  To do this, consider their behavior and personality.  Consider whether their physical selves support or contrast with their psychological selves.
  4. Choose two from below and explain and give examples of a conflict or conflicts between: two people a person and his/her conscience (internal conflict)
  5. a person and society a person and an animal or nature a person and a spiritual/supernatural being
  6. Who is the narrator of the story?  Is s/he inside or outside the story? What is her/his relationship to the story?
  7. Is the book written in the first or third person (I or s/he)? How does that affect the story?
  8. Explain the organization of the book. How it is important to the story?
  9. What is your reaction to a relationship, event, socio-cultural behavior or message/theme of the book?  Be clear about what you are reacting to and exactly what makes you respond as you do.
  10. 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)

  1. If there is any special language used (dialects, foreign words, slang, etc.) give examples and explain its use and purpose.  What is its effect?
  2. Does the author use humor, irony, symbolism, or metaphors? Give examples and explain the effect.
  3. What is the peak event, the climax, of the novel?  What major conflicts lead up to it and what is the resolution afterward?
  4. What is the theme or themes in the novel?  How does the author show this idea?  Give evidence.  Comment on how this theme fits in the novel and how it applies to life outside the book.  What does this theme mean to you?
  5. What did you learn from this novel? In answering this, you may comment on any aspect of the novel including how it is written.

 Updated Tuesday, June 20, 2006 at 8:08:47 PM by Dina Poggi -
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