How do I separate chapter one into narrative, action and dialogue in Of Mice and Men?I cannot understand the difference between narrative and action is because both appear to have action in them....

How do I separate chapter one into narrative, action and dialogue in Of Mice and Men?

I cannot understand the difference between narrative and action is because both appear to have action in them. So for example, when the narrator is setting the scene, it may say that 'the wind blew the dry leaves' I am not sure if I should identify it as narration or action.  I would have originally said narration definitely but am getting confused the more I think about it. My friend told me to think of it like this - if it's not action or dialogue, that is, if a character is not saying something or doing something, then the form of story telling is narrative as in this is all that's left to choose from.

 

Asked on by andreauni1

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Often in literature, terms that we have created to explain what is going on do indeed overlap. I see your struggle because narrative can have action in it as well as dialogue. A narrative is a story that contains all kinds of characters through which the author can develop their character any what he or she wants.

If this were a play, the distinction could be very clear. A narrator's words or paragraph summaries inbetween dialogue passages could easily function as the narrative. Action would be given as stage directions which are usually italicized in parentheses within a character's lines. Dialogue would be easily identified because character's words are labeled with their names, not just quoted. I am wondering if your task was to rewrite the chapter as a scene from a play.

Let's say your job is to highlight your chapter with a color that represents each concept (narrative, action, and dialogue) and you cannot overlap them. I would recommend thinking along these lines:

  • Use one color for everything within quotes, this is obviously DIALOGUE. Also use this same color for anything that the author paraphrases from what a character said.
  • Use another color for anything that characters are doing. That is the ACTION of the play. A dog barking in the distance is not a character of the story. A wave is not a part of action unless a character caused it. A character dragging a shovel is action, even though it is boring. The acts that characters complete are often very intentional and will matter more later in the story.
  • Everything else is NARRATIVE because the author knows that readers need answers to questions. The author wants to offer clues and background on characters or circumstances to come. The author does not want holes in the reader's understanding. Narrative would perform all of these functions for the author that dialogue and action just cannot do.

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