When you tell a friend about something that happened to you at lunch, you are giving the plot of a story. Your friend may keep asking, “And then what happened?” If so, you are being asked to give more of the plot. The plot is the plan of the story, the action, or the events that happened in the story. The plot in most stories has a beginning, a middle and ending.
The first story that you will read is called “Broken Voyage”. As you read it, take a close look at the plot. Notice the order of the events of the story. What happened at the beginning? In the middle? In the ending?
Have you ever dreamed of going around the world? You would be free to stop when you wished and to sail where you wanted. The Robertson family had this dream and decided to make it real. This true story is about their trip. They set sail from England in search of adventure and made their way halfway around the world into the Pacific Ocean. There they found more adventures than they had dreamed of. As you read this story, think about how you would feel and act if you faced the same problems as the Robertsons.
The first two days of sailing on the Pacific were stormy. The Robertson family was happy to see the sun rise through the clouds. They had bravely battled the wind and waves of the Pacific in their small sailboat and they needed a rest.
Their 43-foot sailboat was named the Lucette. It had carried the Robertsons from their home in England across the Atlantic and into the Pacific on their journey around the world. They had been sailing for six months. During that time, they had sailed the Lucette through many storms and into many peaceful ports, but they agreed that the last two days were the worst that they had seen. As the Robertsons ate breakfast, they talked happily about the day of quiet sailing ahead.
"But now we have work to do," said Mr. Robertson.
It was thirteen-year-old Neil's turn to wash dishes and clean up after breakfast. His twin, Sandy, gathered the broken fishing gear for repair. Douglas, their older brother, was already at the wheel in the cockpit keeping the Lucette on course.
On deck, Mrs. Robertson picked up the rubbish left by the storm. Below Mr. Robertson checked the Lucette's movement on the map. They were 3000 miles from the islands where they planned to stop next.
In the galley, Neil washed the last pan and put the towel out to dry. He had finished his work for the morning and now he planned to read his book. As he headed for the cabin, he could hear the water gently slapping against the sides of the boat. It was a comfortable sound. Neil, who had lived all his life on a farm in England, had come to love this sailboat as his home. He climbed into his bunk and leaned back to enjoy his book. He had just started to read when three heavy blows hit the side of the boat. Neil was thrown across the cabin and against the far wall. The Lucette was rolling wildly from side to side. He was on the floor. His ears were ringing and his shoulder hurt.
As he tried to stand up, he heard his family shouting outside. Then he heard his mother cry, "Whales!" A moment later she ran into the cabin. “It's all right, Neil. Just put on your life jacket and get on deck."
The whales had punched a huge hole in the Lucette's side and water was rushing in. As Neil left the cabin, the water already covered the floor boards. He heard his brother Douglas call. "Are we sinking, Dad?"
"Yes! Get ready to abandon ship!" shouted Mr. Robertson as he dashed out of the galley with a knife in his hand.
While cutting the ropes which held a small rowboat to the mast, Mr. Robert son pointed to the rubber life raft. "Get the raft ready. We'll need that too," he cried.
The boys pulled down the raft and Douglas pressed the button to fill it with air. Then he and his brothers turned to help their father free the rowboat. The sea was nearly up to the Lucette's deck. She was sinking fast. The rubber life raft swiftly filled with air. Douglas looked at his father. "When do we lower the raft, Dad?"
Now!" called Mr. Robertson as he ran into the galley.
Water was rolling over the sailboat's deck as Mr. Robertson returned with a bag of food. He gave it to Neil. "Put this in the raft and tell everyone to get in. Hurry, she's going under."
Mr. Robertson made one last trip into the galley. He returned with a bag of oranges and a bag of lemons. He tossed them into the rowboat tied to the raft. Then he took a last look around. His family waited in the raft. Behind it the sea stretched as far as he could see. They were alone. Then he jumped into the water and began swimming for the raft. A moment later the Lucette began drifting down into the dark, deep heart of the Pacific.
That afternoon. Neil wrote on a piece of sail: June 15. Neil's log in the lifeboat. Lucette sunk by killer whales. Vary sad. It went down in 2 minutes.
The Robertsons were lucky to be alive. But now as the sun went down, they wondered about their chances of staying alive. They had no radio. They were hundreds of miles away from a shipping lane and 3,000 miles from the next port. They would not be missed for at least five weeks.
That night, each person had a piece of biscuit, a sip of water, and small piece of candy. They divided one orange among them.
A week passed on the lonely Pacific. The rubber life raft could not last much longer. Air leaked out of tiny pinholes in the sides. Soon it had to be blown up every hour. High waves forced the crew to bail the raft regularly. After almost three weeks, the Robertson family knew that the raft would soon sink. They moved to the tiny rowboat.
The five members of the family crowded together in the little boat. Each one knew that a sudden movement might cause the boat to tip over. So no one moved without warning the others.
Their two greatest problems were thirst and hunger. Their mouths always tasted like cotton. During storms they caught fresh water with a rubber sheet. But each person took only a few sips a day. They did not know when another rain might come. Since most of the food from the Lucette was gone, they were always hungry. Their skin was scorched from the burning sun and the stinging salt water.
But as long as the rowboat could carry them, they could stay alive on the dangerous sea. By the time their food was gone, they had learned to catch fish with hooks of wire. Sometimes big turtles poked their heads up next to the boat. Mr. Robertson and Douglas pulled them aboard, and quickly slit them open with a knife. The turtle eggs and meat would keep them all alive for another day.
The tiny rowboat, with its handmade sail, crept along the course the Robertsons had set for South America. Five weeks had passed since they had abandoned the Lucette. "With luck we should make the coast in about three weeks," said Mr. Robertson, "but I'm afraid the wind's changing. So we may have to start rowing."
Suddenly he stopped talking and stared straight ahead. The others looked at him. "A ship," he said. "There's a ship and it's coming toward us!"
"Where?" they cried and everyone started turning to look.
"Keep still!" shouted Mr. Robertson. "We don't want to tip over now. I must signal the ship. Neil, hand me a flare from that box."
Carefully standing up, he lit the flare and held it high overhead until it burner his fingers. Then he threw it into the air. The family watched him, hardly breathing. Mr. Robertson stood frozen, eyes fixed on the distant ship. Moments passed. Then he looked at them and quietly said, "She's seen us. She's changed course. We're saved."
Lucette – the name of the sailboat in “Broken Voyage”
galley –a ship’s kitchen
In reading a story it is important that you understand the information that is given to you. You need to know who the people in the story are, what they did, and what happened to them. See how well you understood the facts in this story. Write your answers to these questions on a separate sheet of paper.
1. In what country was the Robertson family's home?
2. How long had the Robertsons been sailing the Lucette?
3. What did Neil plan to do after finishing the dishes?
4. What hit the side of the Lucette?
5. Name three things that Mr. Robertson got from the galley.
6. Why did the Robertsons move from the rubber life raft to the rowboat?
7. What food did the family get from the sea?
8. Where did the Robertson family hope to land in their rowboat?
9. Why did Mr. Robertson tell the family to keep still when he saw a ship?
10. How did Mr. Robertson signal the ship?
To get the most enjoyment out of a story, you need to think about what is said. Not all the meanings in a story are stated directly in words. To answer these questions, you will have to figure out meanings not stated directly in the story. Write your answers on your paper.
1. If you had to leave a sinking boat, name three things you would take with you.
2. How old is Sandy?
3. Why did the Robertsons decide to use the rubber life raft instead of the rowboat when they left the Lucette?
4. Which of the following reasons was the most important one in helping the Robertsons to be saved?
a. They were lucky.
b. They fought hard to stay alive.
c. They had both a raft and a row- boat.
d. Why did you decide on that answer?
5. Write a sentence telling what kind of boy Neil is.
6. Mr. Robertson had been a sailor for twelve years before he became a farmer in England. In what ways does his background as a sailor help the family in this story?
7. At what time of day did the Lucette sink? How do you know?
8. Why would it be five weeks before anyone would miss the Robertsons?
9. Do you think that the Robertsons would finish their journey around the world after they were saved?
10. Why is the story called "Broken Voyage"?
What Was the Plot?
The plot tells what happened in the story. These are some of the events in "Broken Voyage." Which things happened at the beginning of the story? At the middle? At the end? On your paper, write the events in the order in which they happened in the story. Mark which ones happened at the beginning, at the middle, at the end.
1. The Lucette was hit by killer whales.
2. The Robertsons saw a ship and lit a flare.
3. The Lucette sank and the Robertsons got into the lifeboat.
4. The Robertsons were doing their jobs on the Lucette.
5. The ship changed course and went toward the Robertsons.
6. Neil was reading in his bunk cabin
In Unit One, you learned how to follow the plot of a short story. Plot is the story line, the action, or the events that happen in the story.
In order to have a plot, a story must have characters. These characters either cause the events that happen in a story or they have things happen to them.
As you know, a character in a story may be a person, an animal, or a thing. A sports story might have a football hero. A story about the future might have a machine as the hero. Both can be called characters in a story. Of course, characters are usually people.
Some stories have many characters. Others have only one or two. If a story has many characters, you find that some are not too important to the plot. They just fill out the background of the story. In the story that you will read in this unit, Stubby is one of these background characters. He is not too important, but he adds to the color of the story.
As readers, we are more interested in the most important person in the story. We want to know what happens to this character. This person is called the main character. The main character usually has a problem or wants to be able to do something. It is important to understand the main character and his or her actions. When you read a story, keep these questions in mind:
1. Who is the main character in the story?
2. What is the main character's problem?
3. Is the problem solved?
4. How is it solved?
By thinking about these questions, you can dig deeper into the meaning of the story. You will be asked to answer these questions after you have read "Trail Drive," the story in this unit.
The trail was one of the big events of the cowhands’ year. After the months of raising and feeding their cattle on the ranch, the cowhands headed for the market to sell their herd. The journey often took weeks and covered hundreds of miles. It was a hard job to keep thousands of steers and cows together and to escape the dangers on the trail. It called for a special kind of person. In this story you will find out why Johnny Bones and Frank were special trail drivers.
The Trail Drive_______________________________
He came riding into camp one day with a string of ponies behind him, snaking through 3500 head of cattle on the move for Wichita. He called himself Johnny Bones.
He sat tall and tight in the saddle. He was about as thin as a broom handle. He was young. “But” he said, “I can ride, rope and wrestle with the best”.
“Talks cheap, kid” said Ab Blocker, the trail boss. But he took the kid on for a week’s look. “By then we’ll know” he said.
It didn’t even take a week. The kid was as good as his word, and no one worked harder. He knew horses and how to drive cattle like an old hand. None of us could wrestle him down. He handled a rope like a hungry rider working a fork at chow.
The kid was good and he was smart. But we didn’t know how smart until we got to the Red River.
We were driving a herd of steers and cows up out of Texas. Blocker had started the drive early in spring. He aimed to get the herd to Wichita before the other herds came in and cut the price buyers would pay.
But Blocker didn’t figure on what the spring rains did to the Red River. When we got to the place where we always crossed, the river was running high, cold, and fast. Then Blocker took a look, he was madder than a steer with a new brand. We can’t stop now, he yelled.
He called his roper, Frank. “Get some ropes on the lead steers, “Blocker said. “If we can’t drive them, we’ll pull them across with horses.
Frank shook his head. “That’s fast water, Ab,” he said. “Cows will drag us downstream if we try to pull them across.”
“Don’t have to,” said Johnny Bones, riding up to the two men. “There’s a bridge a few miles up river. Army put it up last winter. Why not drive the herd up there and walk them across?”
“Because cattle don’t like bridges,” Frank snapped. “These cattle have never seen a bridge. They’ll jump into the water before they’ll cross one”.
“Not if we lead them across,” said the kid, and spelled out his plan. When he was finished, Blocker shrugged. “It’s worth a try. Head them up river for the bridge, boys,” he said.
So we drove the cows up river a piece, wondering why we were wasting time.
They key to Johnny’s plan was Bully. He was one of the oxen used to pull the chuck wagon. Bully loved the chuck wagon, and he never left it. When he wasn’t pulling that wagon, he walked behind it, nose right up next to the tailboard. You could take him to the best grazing grass in all Texas, but as soon as the wagon started to leave, Bully would forget al about eating. It’s a wonder he didn’t get slivers in his nose from rubbing up to the tailboard.
At last we got to the bridge. The kid held Bully with the lead steers. Stubby started the chuck wagon out onto the bridge. When it was halfway across Johnny cut Bully loose. He headed straight for the wagon, the lead steers crowding right behind him. Soon the herd stretched out along the bridge as neat as Johnny Bones’ string of horses.
It was some trick.
Blocker had been plenty pleased with the kid before. Now, heading into Oklahoma Territory, he went crazy. He began praising Johnny Bones like he was a water hole in the desert. And pretty soon, Johnny Bones got the idea he might take over Frank’s job as Blocker’s roper.
The roper’s job was special. He didn’t just watch the herd at night like the rest of the hands. He did only the roping. When we rounded up cattle to start on the trail, there was always a number of young calves. They were too young to travel, but their mothers wouldn’t leave them. So Frank shot the calves and with the help of the other men, drove the mothers off. At night he roped and tied the cows to keep them from going back to look for their young ones. When his job was done, he got his blanket roll out and bedded down for the night. Most nights, Frank got a good night’s sleep unless there was a problem. Then he went into action. Frank did a good job, but Johnny was sure he could do better.
The kid practiced with his rope every chance ho got. He did tricks around the campfire at night. He dared everyone to contests, and sometimes even drew Frank to a tie. Some thoughts he was about as good as Frank.
We were nooning on the trail. The chuck wagon was stopped and the coffee was hot. A few steers drifted past. The kid galloped into camp, hitting a steer with his spur.
The steer reared and began to charge. A moment later it was thundering after Ab Blocker, who had walked away from the camp. Ab heard the pounding hoofs.
Blockers started running. He was yelling for help. The kid hadn’t noticed where the steer was going. He just jumped down from his horse and headed for the coffee pot. But Frank saw Blocker. He threw down his cup, run to his horse, and jumped in the saddle. He turned his horse toward the steer, stuck spurs to him and began doing his rope. He made a loop not much bigger than the steer’s horns were wide.
The steer had lowered its head to hook Blocker when Frank rode up behind it. He whirled the rope around his head one time, and shouted, “Don’t go no further, boss.”
Frank threw the rope over the steer’s horns, his horse sat down and the steer changed ends. His tail whipped around, its tip slapping Blocker’s chain.
It was the quickest, prettiest thing I ever saw.
All of us gave a big cheer, and I glanced at the kid. He was staring at Frank and slowly shaking his head from side to side.
That night, I was inside the chunk wagon, getting things all put away, when I heard voices outside. It was the kid talking to Frank.
“I never saw anything like it,” the kid was saying.
Frank said something quiet and I didn’t get it.
“I don’t care,” answered the kid. “I might be as good, but I’ll never be better. So I’m heading out.”
“Don’t know,” said the kid. “Someplace where they need someone as good as you – where I can be the best.”
There was quiet a moment. Then I heard the sound of horse’s hoofs in the dirt. Johnny Bones was leaving the same way he came. No one but me and Frank would know it until he turned up missing next morning.
Maybe we were the only ones who knew why the kid left.
wrestle – to fight with someone hand to hand
chow – food
chuck wagon – a wagon used to serve food to cowhands
sliver- a small pointed piece of wood
nooning – stopping at midday for rest or food
spur – a pointed piece of metal on a rider’s boot used to make the horse go forward
See how well you understood the facts in this story. On a separate sheet of paper, write your answers to these questions.
1. How many head of cattle were on the move for Wichita?
2. What did Johnny Bones say he could do when he asked for a job?
3. When did the trail drivers find out how smart Johnny was?
4. From where were the cowhands driving the herd of steers and cows?
5. What had the spring rains done to the Red River?
6. Who was Ab Blocker's roper?
7. What was the key to Johnny's plan to lead the cattle across the bridge?
8. Why did Frank shoot the young calves?
9. What did Frank do when he saw Blocker running and yelling for help?
10. Where was Johnny going when he headed out from camp?
See how much your own thinking can add to this story. On your paper, write your answers to these questions.
1. Why does Johnny Bones' name seem to match the way he looks?
2. What does Ab Blocker mean when he says, "Talk's cheap, kid"?
3. Why does Johnny use Bully as the first animal at the bridge?
4. Why might Bully get slivers in his nose?
5. Why does Ab praise Johnny Bones as if he were a water hole in the desert? Why would anyone praise a water hole in the desert?
6. What makes Johnny think he should take Frank's job as roper?
7. Did Frank have a harder or easier job at night than the rest of the cowhands?
8. Was Ab Blocker a coward because he ran from the steer and yelled for help?
9. Why did Johnny shake his head from side to side after Frank saved Ab Blocker?
10. Why did Johnny Bones leave camp in the middle of the night?
Thinking about Characters
1. On your paper, write answers to the four questions you were asked to think about before you read the story:
a. Who was the main character in the story?
b. What was the main character's problem?
c. Was the problem solved?
d. How was it solved?
2. Choose a second title for the story from the list below.
a. "Ab Blocker's Narrow Escape"
b. "The Roping Contest"
c. "A Rope Isn't All That's Needed"
d. "Cattle Can Be Dangerous"
In Units One and Two, you learned about plot and character as parts of the short story. Stop for a moment and try to remember what the word plot means and what the word character means. Can you recall those meanings without looking back to the units?
In this unit, you will learn about a third part of a story. This is setting. The setting is the time and place of the story. It serves as the background for the story. When you describe the setting, you are telling where and when something happened.
Stories can be set in any place and at any time. A story can take place on the streets of a big city or on a lonely farm or high on a mountain. The time can be now or a hundred years ago or in the year 2001. Of course, the setting must fit the characters and plot of the story. We would find a story about cowhands on a trail drive a little silly if it took place in New York City today. The Old West seems to be the right setting for this kind of story. Sometimes a writer will put a character into a setting that does not fit. But this is done for a reason. It may be to make a story funny or to make a certain point. But usually the setting will fit the characters and plot of the story.
The writer may describe the setting at the beginning of the story or just give bits of it as the story moves along. As you read, you should watch for places where the setting is described and try to see the place and time of the story in your mind. This will add color and interest to the stories you read.
The questions listed below will help guide your study of setting. Ask yourself these questions as you read the story in this unit.
1. Where does the story take place?
2. When does it take place?
3. Does the setting fit the events in the story?
4. Why does the setting fit?
You will be asked to write your answers to these questions when you have finished "Sally's First Flight."
Have you ever heard of a hang-glider? Doyou know what it does? A nahg-glider is a large sall with a metal bar connected to it. The wind lifts the sail into the air like a kite and the bar drops down below. By holding on to the bar, a person can fly on the hang-glider and steer it. In this story Sally wants to take a ride on a hang-glider. After you read this story, you may want to try one too.
Sally’s First Flight ________________________________________
Sally slammed the screen door. “That Paul Daniel!” she shouted. “I can’t stand that creep!”
Her mother stood by the kitchen counter. She was slicing bread for lunch. She glanced at Sally.
“Now what happened?” she asked.
Sally flopped down on a kitchen chair. “He won’t let me try his hang-glider.” Sally rolled her eyes. “You’d think I wanted to eat the dumb thing.”
Mrs. Hansen laughed. “What do you do with a hang-glider?” she asked. “What is it?”
“Oh, a hang-glider is great, Mom. It’s a big wing made of cloth stretched over a frame. It looks like two sails sewed together.” Sally held her hand flat in the air like an airplane. “There’s a bar that hangs down from the center of it. That’s what you hang on to and steer with.”
Her mother set bread and a jar of peanut butter on the table. “Yes, but what do you do with it?”
“You fly with it, Mom.”
“Fly!” As Sally sliced a banana on her peanut butter sandwich, her mother stared at her. Then she shook her head. “What will the girl think of next?” she wondered.
“It’s really great! You catch the wind and you glide along on waves of air. Just like a bird.” Sally took a big bite of her sandwich. “Paul got his glider a couple of weeks ago. But he won’t let anyone use it.”
Sally finished her sandwich and gulped down a glass of milk. She jumped up from her chair and headed for the door.
“Thanks for lunch, Mom,” she said.
“Where are you going?” her mother asked. “I want you back here by four to help weed the garden.”
“Okay, I’ll be back to help.” Sally opened the screen door. “I’m going to the beach. There must be some way to get a ride on that glider,” she said. The screen door clapped shut behind her.
Sally climbed on her bicycle and rode for ten minutes to the beach. All the way she thought hard. How could she get Paul to let her use his glider?
The road ended in the dunes above the beach. Sally dropped her bicycle in the sand and walked to the edge of the dunes. The land dropped off in a steep slope to the beach below. On most days, the wind came in off the ocean. Blowing across the beach, it hit the sharp cliff and rose higher. This rising air was just right for hand-gliding.
“Oh, no! Are you back?” said Paul. He was standing a little way down the slope.
Sally said nothing. She crossed her legs and sank down to the sand.
The bright blue and green glider lay on the sand next to Paul. He reached down and grabbed the handle. Lifting it to his chest, he swung the big wing up over his head. He pointed it down the slope and began to run.
Sally held her breath. The sail filled with air, puffing up on top. The boy seemed to dive into the air. He was lifted off the ground as the wind caught the hand-glider. And then –he sailed along the slope.
Sally cheered and said to herself, “I just have to do it.”
Suddenly the nose of the sail pointed up. The back dipped low. Paul and the glider dropped down, bouncing on the sand.
Sally grinned as Paul trudged back up the slope pulling the glider behind him. “What happened?” she called out. “Haven’t you learned to fly it yet?”
The sun was beating down. Paul was hot, and he was tired from so much gliding. He didn’t like people watching him. He had had good flights while Sally was away at lunch.
He glared at Sally. “I bet you couldn’t even lift it.”
“What?” Sally shouted.
The boy puffed up the steep slope. “Girls aren’t strong enough,” he said.
Sally ground her teeth. She hated being told she wasn’t strong enough. Or old enough.
The glider dragged to a stop and Paul sat down in the sand.
“Bet I can,” Sally yelled, jumping up. She ran down to the glider, grabbed the bar and lifted. The wing came up off the ground. Sally began running down the slope.
Paul shouted. Sally didn’t hear what he said. The glider wasn’t heavy, bit it tipped to one side. Sally tried to push up harder on that side. She lost her footing and tumbled to the ground. The glider dug into the sand and tipped over on one side.
Sally’s mouth was full of sand. It was in her eyes and hair. She heard Paul laughing from up the slope. He cupped his hands and shouted, “How’s it taste?” He laughed again.
Sally jumped up, brushing the sand from her face. She ran over to the glider.
“Hey, you had a chance! Beat it!” shouted Paul. But Sally had the glider in the air and was running down the slope again. The wind rushed past her face. The ocean roared in her ears. She felt the glider catch the wind and get lighter.
Paul’s voice came after her. “Tear that sail and you’ll pay for it!” he said.
Sally raced down the slope. She was going too fast. Her legs could barely keep up. She started to strumble again. Her arms shot straight out in front of her, pushing the sail ahead.
Suddenly she was flying. It all happened so fast, she didn’t know what she was doing. One second she was stretched out, about to crash to the sand. Then she felt a sudden tug on the handle. She dove after the glider. It seemed to take off. Her feet came off the ground. She was in the air!
The whole world seemed to fall away. Sally floated slowly along the face of the cliff. The ocean’s roar seemed far off. A seagull drifted past right next to her.
Sally leaned toward the ocean side. The wing tipped that way began a slow, silent turn over the beach.
Sally grinned. She could hardly breathe. Her heart pounded. She had never felt so free.
The glider kept turning. Now it was heading straight for the sandy cliff. Sally tried leaning the other way. The sail began turning away from the cliff. But it was too late. The wing tip dug into the sand with a jolt, flinging Sally off. She hit the sand hard, rolling over and over before coming to a stop.
Sally shook her head and opened her eyes. Her side hurt. Slowly, she sat up and looked around.
Paul had run down to his glider, a good way off. He glared at Sally, then turned to check the sail.
Sally got to her feet and started walking the rest of the way down to the beach. She knew Paul wouldn’t give her another try. But she didn’t care now. She had had her first flight with a hang-glider. It wouldn’t be her last.
dunes –rounded hills of sand heaped up by the wind
trudged - walked slowly because of being tired
glared - stared with anger
jolt –a sudden jerk or bump, a shock
flinging – throwing with force
1. What does a hang-glider look like?
2. How long has Paul had his hang- glider?
3. Where is Sally going when she leaves her house?
4. How long does it take her to get there?
5. What makes the air at the dunes rise?
6. What two things did Sally hate being told?
7. What drifts right by Sally on her flight?
8. How does Sally feel when she is flying?
9. Where is the glider heading when it crashes?
10. Does Sally think she is ever going to fly again?
1. What kind of mother is Mrs. Hansen? Do you think she gives Sally enough
2. Do you think Paul is a selfish person?
3. Do you think Sally should have used Paul's hang-glider if he didn't want her to?
4. How will Sally get another flight with a hang-glider?
5. Do you think Sally would want to try any new sport that she discovered?
6. Describe what you would see if you were flying the hang-glider over the beach.
7. Could hang-gliding be dangerous? Why or why not?
Thinking about Setting and Theme in a Short Story
1. Write answers to the four questions you were asked to think about before you read the story.
a. Where does the story take place?
b. When does it take place?
c. Does the setting fit the events in the story?
d. Why does the setting fit?
2. Choose a second title for the story from the list below. Which do you think would be the best choice? Why?
a. "Girls Are as Strong as Boys"
b. "Flying Can Be Dangerous"
c. "Sally Proves She Can Fly"
d. "Sally's Great Crash"
You know that every story must have plot, characters, and setting. Without these three parts there is no story.
In this unit, we will look at the fourth part. This is the conflict. In every story the main character or characters face some problem. The struggle against this problem is called the conflict. There are three kinds of conflict:
1. The main character may have a problem with another character. This kind of conflict is often used in detective stories when a police officer or a detective is on the trail of a person who has broken the law.
2. The main characters may have to battle some feeling or quality inside themselves. A story about someone who overcomes a drug problem or someone who wins out against some fear has this kind of conflict.
3. The main character or characters may come face-to- face with some danger in nature or some outside force. A story about a town hit by an earthquake or a family lost at sea has this kind of conflict.
What kind of conflict does Neezy face in "The Woods Trap"? What does he learn about himself from this conflict? Keep these questions in mind as you read the story.
In this true story, Neezy, a boy from the city, has come to visit his friend Fred who lives in the country. What happens when Neezy gets lost in the woods and Fred is too sick to help him?
In this true story, Neezy, a boy from the city, has come to visit his friend Fred who lives in the country. What happens when Neezy gets lost in the woods and Fred is too sick to help him?
The Woods Trap___________________________________________
Neezy hopped about pulling off his jeans. He threw them on the ground next to his shirt and then he jumped. The icy water of the small pool beneath the waterfall sent a shock through his body. Coming to the surface, Neezy hooted and leaned back to float under the warm midday sun.
"Man, you country kids have it made," he called to Fred. "This is sure easy living!"
Fred laughed as he peeled off his clothes. "You didn't say that yesterday when we were out mending fence and driving posts."
Fred ran across the clearing in the woods and onto the wet rocks edging the pool. Suddenly his foot slipped. He threw his weight forward, trying to clear the rocks and dive into the pool. There was a crack as his foot hit a sharp stone. Fred cried out, choking as he fell headfirst into the water.
In two strokes Neezy was at Fred's side, grabbing him around the chest. As Fred's head came out of the water, Neezy saw a deep red gash above his eye. "Take it easy, man. I got you."
Neezy pulled Fred to the edge of the small pool. Fred groaned and coughed, choking on the water he had swallowed. His foot scraped over the stones as Neezy pulled him out of the water. He groaned again and passed out.
Neezy kneeled to look at Fred's leg. It was sticking out at a funny angle. Neezy's stomach churned. He felt dizzy. Dropping on his hands and knees, he swayed his head from side to side, like a sick animal. "Oh, man," he groaned. "I've never even been in the woods before! Now what'll I do?"
He jumped up and started pacing back and forth, talking to himself. "Be cool, man. Just be cool. You can't go for help. Man, you don't even know how to find the dirt road where that guy in the pickup truck let you out. Man, you are lost in the woods!
"Besides, there's Fred. You can't leave Fred alone. Not the way he is."
Neezy's hands dug through his pockets. Some of the stuff might help — the jackknife, the small box of wooden matches. People on TV always had these with them in the woods. But the package of firecrackers he'd brought from the city —he wished he'd brought some candy bars instead. . . .
Food —they would need food. And they had to keep warm. It would get cold tonight. All they had were thin spring jackets.
Fred groaned and Neezy ran over to him. But Fred's eyes stayed closed and his groan trailed off into a whimper. The blood was drying on his forehead.
The waterfall roared louder and louder in Neezy's ears. He felt like crying. "Fred, man, Fred, what are we going to do? I'm a street kid, man. At night I stay in the apartment. I watch TV and sleep in a bed."
The idea flashed into his mind like a burst of lightning. That TV show where the rescue team saved those guys in the mountains. . . .
Neezy reached into his pocket and grabbed his jackknife. With his knife he cut two strong branches and stripped the bark off. Then he ripped open one side of Fred's jeans. He carefully bandaged Fred's broken leg, wrapping the torn pants leg around it. Then, using their bandannas, he tied the branches on either side of Fred's broken leg, holding the broken bone in place.
It was late afternoon when Fred came to. His eyes fluttered, and he moaned.
"Don't move, man. Just stay still. Your leg is busted. I put a splint on it," Neezy said.
Fred smiled weakly, trying to hide his pain. "Tha-that's a good job," he said.
Neezy nodded. "Saw it done like that on TV once. Then I remembered this other show where they were trapped in a snowstorm. You just hang on, man. I'm going to keep us warm tonight."
Neezy began going back and forth into the woods. Each time he returned with a big armload of pine cones. He piled them over Fred until he was buried in a blanket of pine cones. Then he collected some for himself.
When that was done, he began looking for twigs and branches for a fire. He was glad to keep moving, for the sun was setting and it was getting chilly. Neezy gathered wood until it was too dark to see. Then, using tree bark as Daniel Boone had done on TV, he started a fire and sat close to it until he couldn't keep his eyes open. He built up the fire. Then he crawled under his pile of pine cones and fell asleep.
When he woke up next morning, he was cold and hungry. He hoped someone would find them soon. But when? It might take days to trace down the guy who had given them the ride. He was the only person who knew where they were.
Neezy spent the morning searching through the woods for something to eat. He'd seen a man on a TV show once who knew how to live off wild plants in the woods. But the plants Neezy tasted were bitter, and he spit them out.
Around noon, he returned to camp and changed the bandage on Fred's forehead. Fred's skin was hot with fever. Neezy couldn't make out the few words Fred moaned.
When Fred went off to sleep, Neezy walked along the rushing brook. Maybe he could make a spear and catch some fish. Two or three times he saw the shadow of a fish dart through the water. But it was gone in a flash, and Neezy finally gave up.
By the next morning, Neezy was so hungry that he was weak. If he got up fast he felt dizzy. His head was spinning. He kept thinking about all the foods he liked. He didn't finish collecting wood for the fire until late afternoon.
Fred's fever seemed worse. He kept waking up and groaning. Then he'd fall back into a strange kind of sleep.
Tears rolled down Neezy's cheeks. His stomach hurt. The wind had started blowing and the late afternoon sky was clouding over. It was going to rain tonight. In two days he'd run out of tricks, run out of TV shows to help them. The next trick was up to him. He was on his own.
There were some cracks in the distance. He almost didn't hear them at first. When he did, he thought they were thunder far off.
Then the sound came again. Not a rumble, but three cracks, like shots, one after another. Neezy felt faint. He couldn't move.
Crack —crock —crack. The sounds came again, back up the ridge. Gun shots. They were gun shots!
Crack —crack —crack.' The sound came again. It was a signal. Soon they'd go away. If they didn't get a sound back, they'd move away, looking elsewhere.
"Okay, man, keep still. Let your head clear." He reached into his jacket pockets. His hands shook as he tried to open the package of firecrackers and get one out. He lit a match and held the fuse to it. Then he tossed it into the woods next to their camp.
Bang! "Keep cool, stay calm," he told himself. Neezy lit another one and waited for the bang. It was a dud. It didn't go off.
But it didn't matter. From up the cliff, probably from the dirt road, came shot after shot. They had heard the firecracker. Help was coming.
Write your answers to these questions on a separate sheet of paper.
1. What are the two boys doing in the clearing in the woods?
2. Which of the boys lives in the country?
3. How does Fred break his leg?
4. What does Neezy have in his pocket?
5. What does Neezy use to make a splint for Fred's leg?
6. What does Neezy use to keep them warm?
7. What kinds of food does Neezy try to find?
8. Why doesn't he use plants for food?
9. How many days were the boys in the woods?
10. How does Neezy signal the men who come to rescue them?
1. Does Fred spend every day enjoying the outdoors?
2. Do you think Neezy should have gone to look for help instead of staying with Fred? Why?
3. What tricks did Neezy learn from watching TV that helped save them?
4. Can you think of any other ways Neezy might have found food?
5. Why would the boys have had no problem getting home if Fred had not been hurt?
6. Why did Neezy find it hard to think straight or to act quickly after being lost for two days?
7. Why does he have to act quickly after he hears the shots?
8. Why doesn't Neezy just shout for help?
9. If Neezy were to write three rules for staying alive in the woods, what would the rules be?
Thinking about Conflict
1. What kind of conflict does Neezy face in "The Woods Trap"?
2. What other kinds of conflicts do main characters in literature stories face?
3. What do you think Neezy learns about himself from his adventure in the woods?
In this unit we will look at the fifth part of a story. This is theme. The theme is the meaning, the message, or the idea behind the story.
Theme is a little harder to talk about than plot, character, setting, or conflict. All four of these are right there in the story's words. But the theme of the story is behind the words. Most good writers do not tell you what the idea, or message, of the story is. Instead they let the events in the plot and the characters' reasons for their actions show you the theme. The writer may also give you a hint through the title of the story. But you must figure out what the story means.
In some stories, such as the detective shows on television, it's not hard to figure out the theme: crime doesn't pay. But this is because these stories always follow the same outline of plot and character.
The questions listed below will help you to discover the theme of a story.
1. What is the title of the story? Why do you think it has that title?
2. What does the main character discover about himself or herself by the end of the story? What do other characters discover about the main character?
3. What do you think the idea behind the story, or the theme, is?
Think about these questions as you read "The Prize" or after you finish reading it. Later, you will be asked to write your answers to these questions.
Have you ever had a hobby that interested you so much that you seemed to forget everything else? In this story Skip feels that way about his acr. More than anything else he wants to win the prize at the auto race. When he must choose between another person and the prize, what will he do? read this story and find out.
Juliana O. Muehrcke
“Hey, Sis” Skip called. “Come see what I got today!”
I signed as I went outside to see. If I knew Skip, it had something to do with that of his. He was crazy about that car.
I was right. Skip was standing in front of his car with that look on his face again. His eyes were so full of pride and love that he didn’t even see me come up beside him.
“What did you want to show me?” I had to yell in his ear to get him to hear.
“Just look!” He pointed to the car.
I looked, but it seemed just the same as it had ever since Skip bought it. He paid forty dollars for it and said it was a great buy. I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was ugliest old car I had ever seen.
Since then, Skip had spent every free moment working on the car. When he wasn’t fixing it up, he was working at the gas station to make enough money to fix it up. The old car seemed to eat up money. Last week he had painted it bright yellow – which didn’t make it look mush better.
“It looks like the same old wreck to me,” I said.
“Old wreck! I’ll have you know this old wreck has passed the test to race on Saturday!” He pulled me over and pointed out a green sticker on the side of the car.
I was shocked. “You’re really going to race this thing?”
He nodded and grinned proudly. “Yep. She’s all ready. Look ’er over”
I couldn’t have cared less, but I gave the car a closer look. “You took all the glass out of the windows,” I said.
“That’s right,” he said, “and there’s nothing loose anywhere. And see those bars on the front and back instead of regular bumpers? And those crash bars on the sides and top?”
He looked so proud that I tried to show some interest.
“Look at the tires,” he told me.
“They’re wider than the regular tires. They hug the road so I won’t slide on the curves.”
“That’s fine.” I said. “But don’t you know there’s more in life than cars?”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“I mean,” I said, “that since you got this car you haven’t done one thing but work on it. You won’t go anywhere with your friends. I don’t think you have friends anymore.”
For a minute I thought he was going to get mad. But then he thought of something else, and his eyes lit up. “Look at this, he said, taking a bag from the car. “ I just got it – my new crash helmet. I’m all ready to race!
Brothers! They’re impossible! I turned and stamped into the house. Skip was busy trying on his crash helmet – yellow to match the car. I don’t think he even noticed I was gone.
That night at dinner I tried again.
“Skip, I said, “”Jerry and I going to the movies on Friday night. Why don’t you come along?”
“Jerry?” Skip said with surprise. “But he’s racing Saturday, too”
“That just goes to show that a person can have a car and still be part of the human race,” I told Skip. “Cars are only a way to get somewhere. People are what is important.”
The far-away look was back in Skip’s eyes, and he didn’t hear me. I was starting to worry about that crazy brother of mine.
I sure never thought then that I’d be at the race on Saturday. But when I saw Jerry on Friday night, he talked me into it.
So there I was in the stands Saturday morning. The place was with color and noise. The cars were bright splashes of color on the track. The seat under me seemed to shake with the noise of all the cars and the shouts of the crowd. The air was filled with the smell of oil.
Now the cars were lining up. I picked out Skip’s yellow one and Jerry’s red one. Some of the cars crept forward a few inches over the starting line, unable to wait. Everyone was so excited and eager that I found myself getting excited, too.
Then the green flag waved. The engines roared and the crowd yelled. I leaned forward to watch.
The cars spread out across the dirt track, and I lost sight of both Skip and Jerry, They roared around the first curve, leaving a cloud of smoke behind them.
When they went over the starting line again, a black car was way ahead.
Skip and Jerry were near the middle. I remembered that it was a ten-lap race. They had nine laps to go.
With each lap, Skip and Jerry closed the space between them and the black car. The black car kept leading the way, but the red and yellow cars were close behind.
When they crossed the starting line for the ninth time, the black car was still first. Jerry was second now and Skip was third. But it was as if Skip had been holding back, waiting for this moment, because all at once be shot forward. He moved up beside Jerry on the inside of the track.
I was on my feet now, yelling as loud as everybody else.
It was on the last lap that it happened. The black car went around the curve and slid forward the far side of the track. It spun around and came to rest facing the other way.
I sucked in my breath. Skip and Jerry were almost to the curve, and they were side by side now. There was no way that both of them could get past that black car, Jerry was going to crash into it!
Just then, Skip’s car made a sharp turn off the track and into the field. This gave Jerry enough space to pass the black car. Jerry squeezed past on the inside, where Skip had been. His car raced across the finish line.
My legs were shaking as I went down to meet Skip and Jerry. I walked slowly, feeling weak in the knees.
There was a crowd of people around Jerry, pounding him on the back and shaking his hand. He was about to be given the prize for winning the race. But he broke away when he saw me.
“I’m going to give Skip the prize,” he told me. “He would have won, but he turned off the track to save my life. It took great driving to do that.”
It took more than great driving. I thought. Skip did care more about people than cars after all.
“Yours brother sure is something” Jerry said.
I didn’t try to hide the tears in my eyes. “He’s O’K’,” I said.
1. How much did Skip pay for the car?
2. Where did Skip work?
3. What color had Skip painted the car?
4. How were the tires on Skip's car different from regular tires?
5. Why were the tires made that way?
6. How many laps did the race have?
7. What color was the car that was ahead during most of the race?
8. Why did the lead car almost cause an accident?
9. What was Jerry going to do with the prize? Why?
10. What did Skip's sister think was more important than cars?
1. Do you think Skip's sister is older or younger than Skip?
2. Do you think Skip's sister really cared about him? What makes you think so?
3. Why was Skip's sister worried about him?
4. Skip's sister thought his car was ugly. Why did Skip think his car was beautiful?
5. Do you think Skip's sister had a good time at the race? What makes you think so?
6. How do you think Skip's sister felt at the end? Why?
7. What kind of person is Jerry?
8. The story is named "The Prize." Jerry won the prize at the race, but someone else won a different kind of prize. What was it?
Finding the Theme
1. What is the title of the story? Why do you think it has that title?
2. What does the main character discover about himself by the end of the story? What do other characters discover about him?
3. What do you think the idea behind the story, or the theme, is?
In the earlier units, you learned about the five parts of a short story. These are plot, character, setting, conflict, and theme. Stop for a moment and see if you can remember what each one means. Look back at the definition and explanation if you cannot remember one.
The short story in this unit will help to refresh your knowledge of these parts. They will also help you to see how these parts work together.
In this unit you will study how character and conflict work together. The study of character means knowing who the people in the story are, what the main character's problem is, and whether it is solved. The conflict is part of the problem. It may be a struggle against nature or another person or something within the main character.
As you read this story, think about the problem Eagle Claw faced. What was it that he learned about himself by the end of the story?
Test of Fire_____________________________________
Juliana O. Muehrcke
"This is the most important moment of my life," Eagle Claw thought.
Excitement ran through him as he looked out the plane window. This would be his first jump with the Indian fire fighters.
These Indians were a very special group. They were dropped from planes to fight fires in parts of the forest which fire fighters on the ground couldn't reach. Eagle Claw thought they were the bravest men alive.
Today he would show himself to be as brave as the bravest.
Long ago, every Indian in his tribe had to pass a test of bravery before he could be called a man. Those tests were part of day-to-day life —such things as hunting game with a bow and arrow. In those times, an Indian boy knew just what he had to do to prove himself.
But those days were gone. The white man had pushed the Indians off their land, and they could no longer live close to the earth. Eagle Claw had grown up in the city. He had gone to the schools of white people. In that world, there was no way to prove his bravery as Indians had done in the past. Things were not so clear to an Indian boy these days.
Many of his friends had given up the old Indian ways as they moved into the white man's world. But Eagle Claw would not. If he could not prove himself with a bow and arrow, he would show his bravery in a forest fire.
Eagle Claw pressed his face to the plane window and watched the green woods below him.
Then he saw it. Great clouds of thick black smoke were foaming into the sky. His heart beat faster, though his dark face was calm.
The others, who had done this many times before, were talking together as they got their gear ready.
"This fire is a bad one," Big Bear said gravely.
Lone Wolf nodded. "The town of Glenwood is in danger if the fire isn't stopped at once," he said.
Eagle Claw felt happy to be back among his own people. He could wish for nothing greater than to be one of these brave Indian men. The test he faced today was far more important than any test at school. He had to pass.
"Are you ready, Eagle Claw?" asked
Big Bear quietly.
Eagle Claw nodded. "I've been waiting for this moment all my life, " he said. This is my chance to prove I am a man."
Big Bear frowned and turned away without a word. Eagle Claw had the feeling that for some reason Big Bear was not pleased with him.
Eagle Claw was puzzled. Didn't Big Bear understand how important this moment was to him?
But he had no chance to wonder about it now. It was time to jump.
The exact instant of the jump was all-important. They must land near the fire but not fall into the hungry flames.
At the signal, Eagle Claw leaped out of the plane. He fell through the air — down, down, toward the raging fire. For a moment, he felt free and light. He was one with only the sky and the wind.
Then he turned his mind to the task of landing. He had to pick out a spot between the trees so that his parachute would not get hung up in the branches.
As he hit the ground, the sharp smell of burning surrounded him. Through the heavy smoke he saw the great wall of fire roaring toward him. He felt a little sick with fear.
Wearing hard hats and armed with shovels and saws, the men set to work making a fire lane. They began to cut down trees, clear away the brush, and dig a trench. When the fire reached this strip of bare ground, it would have nothing to feed on and it should stop.
If they could finish in time.
The fire was moving fast, pushed by the wind and by its own great heat. The air was full of flying sparks and ash and falling branches.
Eagle Claw took his shovel and dug as fast as he could. He could hardly breathe in the hot, smoke-filled air. He had never felt anything like this awful heat. The thick smoke stung his eyes and throat. But he kept digging.
A crackling sound was all around them. Loud booms shook the ground as trees crashed down. Eagle Claw worked as he had never worked before.
Over the roar of the fire, Eagle Claw heard Big Bear shout, "Hurry! The fire is almost on us!"
Eagle Claw's hands were sore and bleeding, but he dug even faster. He couldn't stop even to wipe tears from his stinging eyes. He had to keep digging. Shoulder to shoulder with the other Indians, Eagle Claw worked.
The greedy fire kept coming, eating up everything in its path. Would they finish in time?
Eagle Claw no longer thought about proving his bravery. He didn't think of himself at all. He thought only of stopping this flaming monster which was trying to eat up the green forest land.
At last the fire lane was finished. There was nothing left to do now but wait. If the fire was powerful enough, it would jump over the fire lane they had worked so hard to make. Then they would have to start all over again.
Eagle Claw stood waiting, hoping against hope. His face was black with ash, his shirt wet with sweat. He was too tired to move. He had given all of himself.
He turned his head and noticed Big Bear watching him with a small smile.
Suddenly it was clear to Eagle Claw. He saw now why Big Bear had frowned and turned away before. Big Bear had known that Eagle Claw's reason for joining the fire fighters was not a good one. A man was not brave if he did something just to prove his courage. He was brave only when he forgot about himself—when he cared about something greater than himself.
And now Eagle Claw did care very much about something greater than himself. With all his heart he wanted the fire to be stopped. The miles of forest and the town of Glenwood must be saved.
"Look!" someone yelled.
The fire was burning down. It was not going to jump the trench. A feeling of joy rose in Eagle Claw.
"The town is saved!" Eagle Claw cried. He felt more tired and happy than he ever had in his life.
Big Bear put a hand on his shoulder. "Eagle Claw," he said, "today I think you have become a man."