What literary elements shape the plot development?
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The novel is structured in a linear plot with the story segments paced according to the calendar. It begins with the start of the school year and ends just before the start of another school period a year later. The primary conflict is internal for Cassie as she is growing up and beginning to be aware of adult issues which often make no sense. Events occur in chronological sequence with an occasional story telling segment as a strategy for explaining the background of certain adult characters. Another strategy used to provide Cassie with information that moves the plot forward involves the local gossip such as that which takes place at the church meetings and the news passed along among the children.
In addition to chronology, the novel is structured around a series of problems and solutions, each problem a result of the previous solution. The problems and their complicating elements become more insurmountable as time passes.