Plot The relationships and patterns of events. Even a poem has a plot, such as a change in mood from bitterness to resignation.
What actions happen?
What conflicts occur?
How do the events connect to each other and to the whole?
Who are the principal people in the work?
How do they interact?
What do their actions, words, and thoughts reveal about their personalities and the personalities of others?
Do the characters stay the same, or do they change? Why?
What tone (or tones) do you hear?
If there is a change, how do you account for it?
Is there an ironic contrast between the narrator’s tone (for instance, confidence) and what you take to be the author’s attitude (for instance, pity for human overconfidence)?
What images does the writer use? What senses do they draw on?
What patterns are evident in the images (for instance, religious or commercial images)?
What is the significance of the imagery?
What does the locale contribute to the work? Are scene shifts significant?
Form The shape or structure of the work. What is the form? (For example, a story might divide sharply in the middle, moving from happiness to sorrow.)
What parts of the work does the form emphasize, and why?
Can you state the theme in a sentence?
For instance, you might state the following about Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour”: Happiness depends partly on freedom. Do certain words, passages of dialog or description, or situations seem to represent the theme most clearly?
How do the work’s elements combine to develop the theme?
What do you especially like or dislike about the work?
Do you think your responses are unique, or would they be common to most readers? Why?