The story “Wolf-Alice” by Angela Carter follows a chronology but is largely presented in episodes in which readers learn increasingly more about both the girl and the Duke, and in which the girl learns more about herself. The story begins with a description of Wolf-Alice, both her appearance and behavior, and then flashes back to her discovery in the wolf's den. The tale then speaks of how the nuns were able to teach her a few things before she was sent to live with the Duke.
The story then concentrates on the mysterious Duke for a few paragraphs, describing his creepy nocturnal ways and eating habits. Then it returns to Wolf-Alice to describe her life in the Duke's home and how she matures and becomes a woman. The narrator focuses largely on the girl's perceptions, which are mostly wolfish. It also relates her encounter with a mirror and the beginnings of her self-knowledge. This self-knowledge increases when she tries on dresses and begins, at least a little, to feel something of humanity.
Beneath all this description lies a secondary plot. The Duke has taken a bride's corpse from the graveyard, and the young groom is bent upon revenge. The story builds tension to its climax as Wolf-Alice goes out in a white dress on the very night the young man plans to exact his revenge. She runs from the noise of gunfire, but the Duke is hit. At this point, we learn that the Duke has a pelt during these nocturnal escapades and that he is a werewolf. However, it seems that the silver bullet that struck his shoulder has cured him of his malady, for at the end of the story, the Duke's face appears in the mirror as Wolf-Alice tends his wound. We receive no further resolution, and the story breaks off.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, in sharp contrast, follows a narrative arc of challenge, quest, temptation, climatic encounter, and resolution. The Green Knight issues his challenge at King Arthur's court, and Sir Gawain meets it and agrees to the condition that he will face the Green Knight again in a year and a day. Before that time, he sets out on his quest to find the Green Knight, and along the way he meets with great temptations at Sir Bertilak's castle as Lady Bertilak tests Gawain's purity and resolve. Gawain does not quite pass, for in his fear of his upcoming encounter with the Green Knight, he accepts Lady Bertilak's girdle.
Gawain then meets the Green Knight face to face at the story's climax and receives his blow although it is a slight one. It turns out that the Green Knight is Sir Bertilak himself, and he would not have hurt Gawain at all if Gawain had not partly failed the test. The story resolves with these revelations, a lament from Gawain about his cowardice, and the sympathetic agreement from the knights of Arthur's court that they, too, will always wear green girdles.