3. A*mention of the place, "in front of Smith's
4. A mention of the occasion, or the circum-
stances which caused the different characters to be
in the place mentioned at a particular time, "on my
way to the office," "hurrying for a doctor."
Our next question would naturally be, "Do we
find writers sometimes beginning stories in this
way?" The answer is, "Yes, very often."
We shall study but two illustrations from litera-
ture here, though many others will occur in our
The woods were already filled with shadows one
June evening, just before eight o'clock, though a bright
sunset still glimmered faintly among the trunks of the
trees. A little girl was driving home her cow, a plod-
ding, dilatory, provoking creature in her behavior, but
a valued companion for all that. They were going
The Situation 17
away from whatever light there was, and striking deep
into the woods, but their feet were familiar with the
path, and it was no matter whether their eyes could
see it or not.
— Sarah Orne Jewett, A White Heron,
In the old Colony days, in Plymouth the land of the
To and fro in a room of his simple and primitive
Clad in doublet and hose, and boots of Cordovan
Strode, with a martial air, Miles Standish the Puritan
Buried in thought he seemed, with his hands behind
him, and pausing
Ever and anon to behold his glittering weapons of
Near him was seated John Alden, his friend, and house-
Writing with diligent speed at a table of pine by the
— Henry W. Longfellow, Courtship of Miles Standish,
3. The Situation Elements, or the Four W's.
Each of the above quotations is the beginning of a
story, and like the colloquial illustration in section i
contains the mention of the place, time, occasion,
and characters. The situation elements answer the
questions who, where, when, why — the four w*s.
We have learned then at least one accepted way
of beginning a story — the method of the four w*s.
If these questions which naturally occur to us in
regard to place, time, etc., are answered at the be-
ginning of the story, our minds are satisfied, and
we are prepared to hear more.
1 8 Composition and Rhetoric
4. Theme-model I.— A Story Told by a
Series of Situations. When our story is once
started in this way, our next question is how to
proceed so as to hold the attention of our hearers or
readers, having once secured it by our introduction.
Let us look at the following poem, which catches
the attention by the method of the four w*s, and
keeps it by the very simple device of using three situ-
ations, one at the beginning, one in the middle, and
a third at the end of a series of events. This plan
will enable us to tell a story in an effective and inter-
esting way, and is our first theme-model or pattern.
THE LIGHTS OF LONDON TOWN
The way was long and weary,
But gallantly they strode,
A country lad and lassie.
Along the heavy road.
The night was dark and stormy,
But blithe of heart were they,
For shining in the distance
The Lights of London lay.
O gleaming lamps of London, that gem the city's
What fortunes lie within you, O Lights of London
The years passed on and found them
Within the mighty fold,
The years had brought them trouble.
But brought them little gold.
Oft from their garret window,
On long, still, summer nights.
They'd seek the far-off country
Beyond the London lights.
O mocking lamps of London, what weary eyes look down
And mourn the day they saw you, O Lights of London
The Situation 19
With faces worn and weary,
That told of sorrow's load,
One day a man and woman
Crept down a country road.
They sought their native village,
Heart-broken from the fray ;
Yet shining still behind them
The Lights of London lay.
O cruel lamps of London, if tears your light could
Your victims' eyes would weep them, O Lights of
— George R. Sims.
Analysis of the Model
Observe in the first paragraph :
1. The mention of time: ** The night was dark and stormy.'*
2. The mention of //<w^ .• ** The heavy r<?^i^," ** The Lights
of London Town."
3. The mention of characters : **A cotmtry lad and lassie''
4. The mention of the occasion^ i. e,, the reason why the
characters are in the place named. This is implied in **What
fortunes lie within you, O Lights of London Town ! "
Find the situation elements in ^e second and third paragraphs
of this poem.
5. Plan of Situations in Theme-model L Theme-
model L is derived from The Lights of London Town,
which has the following plan:
Situation L The first paragraph gives The Prep-
aration — a lad and a lass starting out to seek their
Situation IL The second paragraph gives The
Climax — the failure of their hopes.
Situation IIL The third paragraph gives The
Sequel — the course of action which follows the
When you are asked hereafter to tell or write a
story according to Theme-model L, g^ve three situ-
ations, each in a separate paragraph. The situations
20 Composition and Rhetoric
should follow the order of time, that is, the natural
sequence, so that the first occurs in the preparation
of the story, the second at the climax, and the third
in the sequel. Such a theme resembles a chain of
three links of the same size and shape, if we consider
the resemblance of the separate units (the situations)
to one another. If we consider their relations one
to another, this kind of theme is like a flowering
plant, for one situation g^rows out of the preceding,
as the stalk from the root and the blossom from the
stalk. To change the figure, writing a story accord-
ing to this plan is also like climbing a hill. The
starting to climb corresponds to what we have called
the preparation; reaching the summit, to the climax;
and descending on the other side, to the sequel.
6. Definition of Terms, In the preceding sec-
tions we have used certain terms which will here-
after occur frequently and need to be formally
defined. These are the terms : Narration, narrative,
paragraph, situation, situation elements, theme, and
1. A poem which tells a story is a narrative
poem, or an example of narration.
2. Narration means story-telling.
3. Narrative means story-telling or relating to
4. A paragraph is a group of sentences which
develop one idea.
5. The situation is a type of paragraph which pic-
tures a single scene in a story by mentioning the
time and the place of the action, the characters in-
volved, and the occasion which brings the characters
The Situation 21
to the particular place at the time mentioned. Each
stanza of The Lights of London Town is therefore an
example of the situation, as we have seen.
When the student begins to look for the situation
in pieces of literature he will find that it sometimes
occupies more than one paragraph. However, in
writing the themes called for in this book, he is
advised to confine the situation, except when dia-
logue is used, to a single paragraph, otherwise this
element may be out of proportion to the other nar-
rative and descriptive motives.
6. The situation elements answer the four ques-
tions, when^ where, who, and why. (See § 3.)
7. A theme is a composition in the sense in which
you have used the latter term in the grammar
school. The word theme is used here instead of
composition because it is shorter and more precise.
8. A theme-model is a piece of literature from
which we may derive a pattern or general plan for a
^. Uses of Theme- model I. We shall find
Theme-model I. convenient for analyzing other
poems constructed on the same general plan, — that
of a series of situations, — such as Kingsley's Three
Fishers, George Eliot's Two Lovers, and Longfellow's
The Hanging of the Crane. It will serve also for
original narratives, for the description of pictures
that contain the four w's, and for the reproduction
of stories, both those built on the same and on a
8. The Situation Elements in Pictures. Before
proceeding to a detailed study of Theme-model I.,
22 Composition and Rhetoric
however, we shall examine the single situation more
in detail, beginning this study by finding the elements
of place, time, character, and occasion in pictures.
Turn to the frontispiece and find in it the four
What is the place? What details show this?
Does the title tell anything about the place ? about
the time ? Is the time of year given ? of day ? Who
is the character ? How do you know ? What is the
occasion? How is it shown? Make a list of the
objects that give the place element ; the time ele-
ment. What is the social rank of the character?
What shows this ?
Find in the magazines, in your home, the school-
room, or elsewhere, pictures that contain the situ-
ation elements. Determine in each case what
expresses the place, the time, the occasion, and the
characters, and be able to mention all the details
which give each of the four w*s in the pictures you
examine. Remember that all pictures do not con-
tain all of these elements. In some portraits, for
instance, we find only the character element, as we
use the term character in the analysis of a situ-
ation (see §2). Look for other pictures that have
only the place element.
9. Examples of the Situation for Analysis. The
following examples of the situation are first to be
analyzed into the four elements we have been study-
ing, and then reproduced as an exercise in the law
of variety. It is in the study of this law that we
first consider the questions of choice of words and
The Situation 23
sentence structure. We have had a slight introduc-
tion to one type of theme and paragraph. We are
now to give some thought to the sentence and the
Find the mention of place, time, occasion, and
characters in each of the following examples of the
In his chamber all alone,
Kneeling on the floor of stone,
Prayed the Monk in deep contrition
For his sins of indecision,
Prayed for greater self-denial
In temptation and in trial ;
It was noonday by the dial,
And the Monk was all alone.
— Henry W. Longfellow, The Legend Beautiful.
King Solomon, before his palace gate
At eveninjg, on the pavement tessellate
Was walking with a stranger from the East,
Arrayed in rich attire as for a feast.
The mighty Runjeet-Sing, a learned man,
And Rajah of the realms of Hindostan.
— Henry W. Longfellow, Azrael,
"Ah, how short are the days! How soon the night
In the old country the twilight is longer ; but here in
Suddenly comes the dark, with hardly a pause in its
Hardly a moment between the two lights, the day
and the lamp light ;
Yet how grand is the winter! How spotless the snow
is, and perfect ! "
24 Composition and Rhetoric
Thus spake Elizabeth Haddon at nightfall to Hannah
As in the farmhouse kitchen, that served for kitchen
By the window she sat with her work, and looked on a
White as the great white sheet that Peter saw in his
By the four corners let down and descending out of the
— Henry W. Longfellow, Elizabeth,
One summer morning, when the sun was hot.
Weary with labor in his garden-plot.
On a rude bench beneath his cottage eaves,
Ser Federigo sat among the leaves
Of a huge vine, that, with its arms outspread,
Hung its delicious clusters overhead.
— Henry W. Longfellow, The Falcon of Ser Federigo,
Robert of Sicily, brother of Pope Urbane
And Valmond, Emperor of Allemaine,
Apparelled in magnificent attire.
With retinue of many a knight and squire.
On St. John's eve, at vespers, proudly sat
And heard the priests chant the Magnificat.
— Henry W. Longfellow, King Robert of Sicily.
The wind is roistering out of doors.
My windows shake and my chimney roars ;
My Elmwood chimneys seem crooning to me.
As of old, in their moody, minor key,
And out of the past the hoarse wind blows,
As I sit in my arm-chair, and toast my toes.
— James Russell Lowell, To Charles Eliot Norton.
The hard white bundles in the shallow splint-basket
were disappearing, one by one, and taking their places
The Situation 25
on the decrepit clothes-horse, well ironed and precisely
folded. The July sunshine came in at one side of Mrs.
Powder's kitchen, and the cool northwest breeze blew
the heat out again from the other side. Mrs. Powder
grew uneasy and impatient as she neared the end of her
task, and the flat-iron moved more and more vigorously.
She kept glancing out through the doorway and along
the country road as if she were watching for somebody.
— Sarah Ornk Jewett, Tales of New England,
The long, low, red-painted cottage was raised above
the level of the street, on an embankment separated
into two terraces. . . . The whole yard and the
double banks were covered with a tall, waving crop of
red-top and herd's-grass and red and white clover. It
was the height of haying-time. ... A rusty open
buggy and a lop-eared white horse stood in the drive
opposite the side door of the house. An elderly woman
with a green cotton umbrella over her head sat placidly
waiting in the buggy. . . . The side door stood
open, and a young woman kept coming out, bringing
pails and round wooden boxes, which she stowed away
in the back of the buggy and under the seat. She was
a little round-shouldered, her face with its thick, dull-
colored complexion was like her mother's, just as pleas-
ant and smiling, only with a suggestion of shrewd sense
about it which the older woman's did not have.
— Mary E. Wilkins,
A Humble Romance, and Other Stories,
At Drontheim, Olaf the King
Heard the bells of Yule-tide ring.
As he sat in his banquet-hall.
Drinking the nut-brown ale.
With his bearded Berserks hale
— Henry W. Longfellow. The Saga of King Olaf,
Once on a time, some centuries ago,
In the hot sunshine two Franciscan friars
26 Composition and Rhetoric
Wended their weary way, with footsteps slow,
Back to their convent, whose white walls and spires
Gleamed on the hillside like a patch of snow;
Covered with dust they were, and torn by briers,
And bore like suinpter-mules upon their backs
The badge of poverty, their beggar's sacks.
— Henry W. Longfellow, The Monk of Casal-Maggiore,
10. The Law of Variety in the Situation. We
all know how tiresome monotony is in our ordinary
experience. A sound repeated again and again
wearies us. Sameness of color tires our eyes, and
our minds are jaded or made dull by monotony of
thought, or by tasks that require the use day after
day of the same set of muscles or nerve centers. In
order to keep our health, either of mind or body,
we must have variety of interests and activities ; in
other words, we must obey the law of variety. We
shall find in our study of the situation in this chapter
that the principle of variety belongs to art as well as
to life. The examples. of the situation quoted in
section 9 vary in expression, in the order of the situa-
tion elements, and in sentence structure,
11. Variety in Methods of Expression. We
shall study the examples of the situation g^ven in
section 9, first for variety of expression in the situ-
ation elements, beginning with the following study
of the time element :
Example I. " It was noonday by the dial " gives the
time of day. Here a whole sentence is used to express
Example II. "At evening** also gives the time of
day, but expresses time in a phrase.
Example III. The expressions, "Ah, how short are
The Situation 27
the days ! " and "Yet how grand is the winter ! " tell us
that the season is winter. Here time is expressed by
the direct quotation in the form of an exclamatory sen-
tence. What kind of sentence was used in Example I.?
" Looked on a landscape white " also indicates the sea-
son. Here, too, a whole sentence is used for the time
element. "In the old country the twilight is longer"
gives us the time of day and expresses the time ele-
ment in a sentence.
Example IV. " One summer morning " gives the
season and the time of day in the form of an adverbial
objective, the words summer and morning being used
instead of phrases or clauses.
Example V. "On St. John's eve" gives the month
and day of the month and the time of day. Time is
here expressed in a phrase.
Example VI. The time is implied, not directly
expressed, in this example. We infer from the roister-
ing wind and the blazing fireplace that it is autumn or
Example VII. The month is given in the expression
"The July sunshine."
Example VIII. "It was the height of haying-time"
tells the season in a direct way. Is this method as
effective as that used in VI.?
From a study of these examples of the time ele-
ment we have learned the following facts :
1. That the time may be told indirectly.
2. That it may be told directly also by the use of
the adverbial objective, a phrase, a clause, a sentence.
3. That we may be given the century or age (see
Example X.), the year, season, month, day, or hour.
Suggestion. — The elements of place, character, and occasion
in Examples I. to X., section 9, may be studied in the same way.
28 Composition and Rhetoric
12. Variety in Order. Note also, from the fol-
lowing study, the variety in the order in which the
four situation elements are introduced in the situa-
tions quoted in section 9 :
In Example I. the order is as follows:
a. The place is mentioned first, in the expression,
"In his chamber."
b. Next, the character and the occasion^ "Prayed the
Monk in'deep contrition.*'
c. Lastly, the time^ " It was noonday by the dial."
Sometimes two of the elements are given
together. See the mention of character and occa-
sion together in b of the above analysis.
Suggestion. — The order in the other examples of the situ-
ation which have been given in section 9 may be determined.
Which of the four elements is mentioned first, which next, and
13. Varying the Order and Expression in Re-
production. In the exercises called for at the close
of this section the student will be asked to rewrite
certain situations in order that he may see how the
elements of a particular situation may be expressed
in many ways. A sample situation and a reproduc-
tion of it are gfiven below to show how this variety
may be secured. The reproduction is not necessa-
rily an improvement on the original. It aims merely
to be different.
The original situation: "It was market-day and over
all the roads round Goderville the peasants and their
wives were coming towards the town. . . . The
women walked with steps far shorter and quicker
than the men."
The Situation 29
The reproduction : Goderville was in high feather, for
it was market day. The peasants might be seen
trudging along the roads leading to the town, their
baskets filled with vegetables and fruits. The
shorter and quicker steps of the women made them
appear more sprightly than the men, who strode
through the dust with their wooden shoes.
Suggestion. — Prove that the same place, characters, etc. , are
mentioned in the original situation and the reproduction.
I. Reproduce the last three examples of the
situation in section 9. Determine first the order of
the four elements in the original situation, and in
your reproduction change both the original order
and the mode of expressing the four w*s. (See §§ 1 1
II. Bring to class several situations which you
have found in books. Determine the four w*s in
each. Reproduce three of these situations, varying
the order and taking care to present each of the
four elements in a way unlike that of the original.
14. Variety in Sentence Structure. The law of
variety is constantly violated by students in the
structure of their sentences. They use with painful
monotony, either the short, simple sentence, begin-
ning almost invariably with the subject, or a series
of simple statements connected by and, and so, or
and then. These connectives unite the statements
grammatically, but they do not indicate the logical
relations of time, cause, concession, etc., which often
exist between such statements. In order to gain
greater variety in the sentence we must first learn
to construct the longer complex sentence by sub-
30 Composition and Rhetoric
ordinating some thoughts to others so as to show
their logical relations. We should use complex,
compound, and simple sentences with equal ease in
Sentences should vary not only in grammatical
structure, but in length. Neither the short nor the
long sentence should be allowed to become tiresome
by being used too frequently.
There is still a third way for securing variety in
the sentence. When we put the subordinate ele-
ments first and do not complete the principal state-
ment until the close of the sentence, we are using
what is called the periodic sentence. When we reverse
this order, completing the principal statement early
in the sentence and bringing in the clauses toward
the close, we are using the loose sentence. We should
strive to use both the loose and the periodic sentence
in our composition.
To sum up what has been said on the subject of
variety in the sentence : The sentences in a para-
graph or a theme should vary in length, and in
grammatical and rhetorical structure.
In each of the examples of the situation quoted
in section 9, how many long sentences are there ?
How many short sentences ? How many compound ?
How many simple? How many complex? How
many loose sentences do you find? How many
Do any of the examples of the situation violate
the law of variety in regard to sentence length?
to grammatical structure? to rhetorical structure?
15. The Material Used for Sentence Study. In
the following studies of the sentence, the situation
will be used for most of the material so that the
exercises may not be upon detached sentences, but
upon sentences combined to make a situation para-
gpraph, whose use in the theme we already under-
stand. (See §§ I to 5.)
16. Outline of Sentence Study. The following
is an outline of sentence study as treated in this
Sentence Study I. treats of the comma fault, which
consists in writing several distinct and independent
sentences as if they were one. Students sometimes
omit all marks of punctuation between such sentences,
or separate them by commas (hence the name of the
error, comma fault). A sentence should, of course,
close with a period, an interrogation point, or an excla-
Sentence Study II. deals with a series of independent
Sentence Study III. has to do with the reducing of
independent to coordinate statements when the thoughts
expressed are coordinate.
Sentence Study IV. shows how a coordinate state-
ment may be reduced to a subordinate element in the
sentence. Students often use the compound sentence
when the logical relations of the statements in a
32 Composition and Rhetoric
sentence require that it be complex. Study IV. is
intended to correct this error.
We shall learn in the first study when a sentence
ends ; in the second, third, and fourth, to avoid a series
of short, disconnected sentences, and the excessive
use of statements connected by the word " and."
17. Sentence Study I.— The "Comma Fault."
For lack of a better term the expression, "comma
fault," is here used loosely to cover the two kinds of
errors mentioned under Sentence Study I. in section
16; namely, the use of the comma instead of the
period to separate sentences, or the writing of a
series of sentences with no mark of punctuation
between them. In connection with this sentence
study, consult Appendix I. on Punctuation. Refer
to the rules there whenever you are writing a theme
or exercise. The following excerpt illustrates the