“The Black Cat” Summary | Plot Diagram
Lesson Plan Reference
Grade Level 9-10
Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)
Type of Assignment Individual or Group
Type of Activity: Plot Diagrams and Narrative ArcsCommon Core Standards
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/3] Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/5] Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise
A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and helps students develop greater understanding of literary structures.
Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the story in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
Example “The Black Cat” Plot Diagram
The narrator is telling his story as a condemned man, flashing back to the beginning. He was a peculiar boy, particularly fond of animals. He married young and his wife made sure they had many animals, especially one particularly large black cat named Pluto. The narrator confesses that he is an alcoholic, and this made him violent towards everyone – his wife and his pets, but he was able to keep himself from abusing Pluto.
One night, in a drunken stupor, the narrator thinks Pluto is avoiding him, so he seizes him and cuts out one of his eyes. He is ashamed in the present of his deed, but back then, his shame only lasted a short while. Pluto, of course, avoided the narrator and the narrator began to be irritated by this.
The narrator becomes so angry at Pluto’s avoidance that one day, he decides to hang him from a tree. Later that night, the narrator’s entire house burns down. The following day, the narrator visits the ruins of the house and finds on the one standing wall an image of a cat with a rope around its neck. The narrator explains it away, but is nonetheless shaken. He begins to search for a new cat, and finds a large black one with a white splotch on its chest at one of the taverns he frequents.
The cat follows the narrator home. The cat loves the narrator, and because of his guilt from past deeds, the narrator begins to loathe the cat. The cat is also missing an eye, like Pluto. The more the narrator avoids the cat, the more he follows him. The spot on his chest begins to resemble a gallows, frightening the narrator. One day, on the way to the cellar, the cat trips the narrator on the stairs and he raises an axe to kill him; he is stopped by his wife, and in a rage, he kills her with the axe instead.
The narrator walls his wife up within the wall of the cellar. The cat seems to have fled, and the narrator sleeps peacefully for the first time in a long time. Three or four days pass, and the police finally come to search the premises. The narrator, however, is unbothered because he knows they’ll never find his wife.
As the police are about to leave the cellar and the premises for good, the narrator takes his cane and raps on the cellar wall to boast about the construction of the house. At that moment, a wailing and screaming comes from behind the plaster. The police open the wall and find the narrator’s wife, along with the black and white cat, whom the narrator had accidentally walled up with her body.
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)
Create a visual plot diagram of “The Black Cat”.
- Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
- Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
- Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.
(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)