Author’s name, Story title. What is the subject of the human condition here, and what does the story reveal about that subject?
How are human beings portrayed in the short story? Do they come across as fundamentally flawed and selfish? Do they come across as heroic? Does the story present a mix?
How does the author portray different characters? Are they typified? Are they round? Do they embody any highly negative qualities? Do they have any redeeming qualities? If some characters are portrayed as “good,” what good things do they do? If they are flawed, how are they flawed, and to what extent?
How does the author portray the society in which the characters live? Is it a life-enhancing or a life-destroying society? Are the characters we care about in conflict with their society? Do they wish to escape their society? Are they trapped by it? Do they want to change it, and if so, why?
What control over their lives do the characters have? What controls and governs their choices? To what extent are they “free” to choose, and to what extent are their choices controlled by social forces, by the forces of their own passions, or by fate? To what extent are they to blame for their actions?
Who serves as the moral center of the work? Is there one? Do you think there is always a need for one in every work of fiction? If you feel there is one in the novel/story you are presently reading, what does the author do to convince you of this? What values does the moral center embody? What effect does the moral center have on the other characters?
What conflicts are in the story? What kind of conflicts are these? Are they material, emotional, moral, spiritual? Are these conflicts clear-cut or ambiguous? Is someone clearly right and someone clearly wrong? Why or why not? Does right win in the end? If it doesn’t, why not?
Finally, did this reveal the discontent of the human condition? What did it show you about human beings in general?
4 to 5 pages.
SHORT STORY LINK ==> The Purloined Letter (americanliterature.com)