What is the plot structure of Rony V. Diaz's "The Centipede"?

Quick answer:

In "The Centipede," the exposition occurs in the beginning as Delia beats the dog and the narrator watches, filled with hatred. The action rises through the flashbacks, Delia's threats, the narrator's horror at his injured dog, and the handyman's discovery of the centipede. The climax occurs when the narrator drops the dead centipede into his sister's lap. From there, the action falls to a limited denouement in the story's final lines.

Expert Answers

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Let's examine the plot line of Rony V. Diaz's story "The Centipede." The story begins with an exposition that sets up the conflict and introduces the characters. The narrator sees his sister, Delia, severely beating his dog with a stick. He does not intervene because he does not want to startle his sister, who has a bad heart, but he feels hatred building inside him.

Then the story flashes back to the day the narrator got the dog. The narrator relates the story of the hunting trip with his father. He tells how the dog found him and how he adopted the affectionate animal. This provides some good background information about the narrator and his relationship with the dog.

The story then returns to the present as Delia tells her brother that she doesn't ever want to see the dog again. If she does, she will have it killed. Then she pushes her brother to the ground. Here, the action begins to rise.

It continues to rise, along with the narrator's hatred, as he tells how his sister has been mean to him since he was born. He relates several anecdotes that give the audience a sharp idea of Delia's malicious abuse and deliberate intent to hurt her brother by depriving him of everything dear to him. The story then returns to the present, and that narrator finds his poor dog in the bushes with one eye pierced. The narrator screams in fury as the action rises further.

As the narrator is returning to the house, the handyman shows him a large centipede that he has just discovered while chopping wood. The narrator tries to hide his excitement. He kills the centipede and takes it with him. The action has risen now to near its climax.

The climax occurs when the narrator drops the dead centipede onto his sister's lap. She screams and jumps up. Then she collapses. The action quickly falls as Delia accuses the narrator and drops to the floor. The narrator kneels beside her and shows her that the centipede is dead. He suddenly feels both pity and guilt. A full denouement never occurs, but the audience can easily infer that Delia probably dies of fright as the narrator remains still, holding the centipede.

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