EXPOSITION IN A NOVEL

The exposition of a story is its starting point. The opening lines of a novel, the initial scene of a play or the opening shot of a movie all set the mood for the audience. You could say that authors manage the audience’s expectations in the exposition from the first words.

There are a few questions on the mind of any audience when embarking on a new story. You can apply these questions to any work that you are reading for Parts 3 or 4. Below we offer answers to these questions in relation to Black Boy by Richard Wright. Exposition is one of many literary terms that you will want to become familiar with. Remember that the third learning outcome for Part 4 is an awareness of and ability to use such literary terms.

5 questions on exposition
Here are five questions you can answer after reading the opening lines of a play, novel or short story. For each question, look for evidence from the passage to support your answer. You can apply these questions to any work that you are reading for Parts 3 or 4. The answers that appear here relate to the opening lines from Black Boy by Richard Wright.

5 questions on exposition

What kind of story is this going to be? To what literary genre might this work belong?
Who will be the main characters?
Is there a problem or conflict that has to be resolved? Predict how the plot will develop after these opening lines.
Where is the story set? What do you know about this setting? How might the setting shape the story?
What is the narrator’s relation to the story?

EXPOSITION – SETTING

CHARACTERISTICS OF SETTING

  1. MIRROR
  2. MOULD
  3. ESCAPE
  4. ALIENATION
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