STORY TITLE “Grounded” by Jane Sprague, Pages 215 225,
(Denny’s friends have a curfew. They must be at home at a certain time. Denny wanders the streets by himself feeling lost and lonely. His mother works hard and has little time for him. His summer is passing by rather unhappily for him, but then a stepfather enters his life.)
EXPOSITION Page 215 introduces the reader to the protagonist, or major character, Denny and his baseball playing friends, Bink, Denny, Carl, and Hector. The SETTING will be described following the PLOT.
The time period of the story includes late spring, summer and early fall. Denny tries to ridicule his ballplaying friends by calling them babies when they won’t stay out late with him in the ball park. Their families insist that they be home at a certain time.
The CONFLICT patterns incorporated in the story are man versus man and man versus environment. Denny feels lost and lonely, rejected by his buddies. Though his mother leaves him loving notes, he feels she is indifferent to his needs. He is angry that she has to work and cannot give him more time.
He is also a “victim” of a single-parent home, an increasingly common social condition in American society today. He is drifting because he is not from a complete family unit, none particularly cares about what is happening to him.
DENOUEMENT When his mother remarries, Denny expects his step-father to be indifferent to him. However, Tim is quite concerned about Denny’s welfare and insists that Denny no longer go out every night of the week. Denny is happy to be “grounded,” that there is a family at home concerned about his activities and whereabouts.
P. 215 . . . high above the ball park diamond . . . ”Saturday night, and you want to go home before it’s even dark?” The story begins in a park. P. 216 . . . and started for home, through the warm spring night. P. 221 Even though this was a city with a warm fall . . . Phrases indicate the story setting is a city and the time span from spring to early fall.
Denny (primary), Bink, Carl, Hector, Mom and Tim Moore
CHARACTERIZATION of Denny revealed by author’s use of
: P. 224 “Gosh, no, I’m not busy. I’ve never been to the stadium.” (receptive, willing to cooperate)
CHARACTERIZATION of Denny from his
: P. 216 Denny turned to Bink, his last hope. (sense of desperation) P. 218 He slammed the refrigerator door so hard, it came open again. (angry)
CHARACTERIZATION of Denny by
: P. 217 He wished his mother had left the outside light on for him. (yearning, unfulfilled need) P. 219 Didn’t she really care what time he came home? (sense of rejection) P. 220 All through the long summer, Denny spent a lot of time feeling bored.
The author characterizes Denny as a confused, lonely teenager surrounded by friends who are accountable to their parents.
: P. 218 “Where are you going, Denny?” . . . ”Well, you be home no later than nine, now. Remember.” (parental concern)
CHARACTERIZATION of Mom by
actions or behavior
: P. 218 I’ll be home late.XXX. Mom. (note writer)
P. 220 His mother worked all day and then went out with Mr. Moore two or three times a week. (hardworking, has a private life)
CHARACTERIZATlON of Mom by
writing it directly
: P. 219 But his mother had gone to bed and left him a note. (tired, communicative by notes) P. 220 Of course she cares. She just has a lot on her mind. (loving but lacks time to show it) P. 223 Your mother worries about you when you’re out. (concerned parent)
Mom loves her only son, but as a single parent she lacks the necessary emotional and physical stamina to relate to him. Her household chores, job, and budding romance have diminished her parenting strengths and she inadvertently allows Denny excessive freedom.
P. 223 “ . . . I don’t want to make you mad at me if I don’t have to, but 1 do want us to be a family from now on. (loving, responsible)
CHARACTERIZATlON of Tim from
actions or behavior
: P. 221 Tim stood there in the doorway of the living room (strong) P. 223 Denny felt a little scared,but all his stepfather did was sit on the couch across from Denny. (imposing but gentle figure)
CHARACTERIZATION of Tim by
it: P. 223 “So, from now on we’re going to work together. . . . That is if you’re not too busy to go. (cooperative, considerate)
Tim is a secure, stable man who knows how to assume responsibility. He is firm but not strict with Denny and is establishing good communication with him.
P. 217 After his buddies have left him, Denny goes home dejectedly. A MOOD of loneliness prevails. P. 218 Denny is hostile to his mother; the slamming of the door displays this. P. 221 The sentence, “They wouldn’t know the difference anyway,” reflects an indifferent MOOD. P. 2224 Denny is in a happy MOOD when relating that he’s going to the big-league game with his “old man.”
Mom, alone, is depicted as a rather weak figure, one who is having difficulty giving proper supervision to her teenager. The author is reflecting the attitude that without parental limits, a teenager may develop emotional problems.
F. POINT OF VIEW
The objectives point of view is applied primarily throughout the story. The narrator, Denny, tells the story without getting into the emotions of the characters. P. 217 When he got home, he threw the ball up for the last time. . . . Then he went to the door, fishing his key out of his pocket. P. 218 Denny turned on the oven and read the directions for the dinner. P. 219 The boys slowly gathered up their equipment and headed for home. P. 223 Then Tim moved toward Denny. P. 224 He turned off the lights and followed him.
Parental discipline is a sign of love. Reasonable punishment can be considered a sign of concern about another’s welfare, a sign of caring.
This concludes Lesson Plan III. Most of the other stories in the
textbook can be “dissected” similarly. I have-following a worksheet that you can copy or thermafax for classroom use. There is a teacher’s bibliography for your further edification. The student’s bibliography includes a brief list of reading material that I’m hoping will whet the student’s reading appetite.
In conclusion, a skillful reader will soon learn to recognize the clever ways in which a story is created. A writer’s hand is behind the story arranging events, causing things to happen. Though a reader may not meet a character in fiction like himself, the stories can take him to different places, introduce him to different and new kinds of people, face him with problems, some like his and some not. Reading is entertaining, informative, humorous, philosophic, escapism, scientific—life!
STORY ELEMENTS WORKSHEET
(figure available in print form)