“Contents of the Dead Man’s Pocket” 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 help 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 "Contents of the Dead Man’s Pocket" Plot Diagram
Tom Benecke is staying home in his high-rise apartment in New York City while his wife, Clare, goes out to the movies without him. Tom is choosing to stay home and work on a very important project for his job. It’s hot in the apartment though, so he opens a window.
As Clare goes out the door, an air current from the hall picks up the papers on Tom’s desk, whisking a yellow paper with weeks’ worth of research scrawled on it out of the window. This research and idea could eventually bring big things for Tom in his company and in the grocery business. The paper is out on the ledge, and Tom has to decide whether or not to go out on the ledge to retrieve it.
Tom assesses the situation: the paper is against a projecting wall from the next apartment, caught in the corner between the two walls, about five yards away. The ledge is about the width of his shoe, and every fifth brick of the wall indents for good finger gripping. He decides it is an easy task and ventures out.
Tom slides easily along the wall, 11 stories above Lexington Avenue, until he reaches the corner. He straddles the ledges of the two walls, and scrapes his head against the wall as he stoops down to pick up the paper. However, as he bends down and grabs the paper, he sees the street below between his feet and suddenly is seized by panic. He jerks upward suddenly and almost loses his balance. He is then paralyzed by his fear, and unable to move.
Slowly, through the panic, Tom is able to shut his mind against the horrific pictures he sees in his mind of losing his balance and falling. He painstakingly shuffles along the ledge, sliding his body along the wall. He stumbles, begins to fall, and grasps onto the window, which closes on him. He tries to get the attention of the apartments across the street, but no one sees him. He finally manages to punch through the glass and pull himself back inside.
Once inside, Tom immediately takes the yellow paper out of his pocket and weighs it down with a pencil. He goes to the closet, takes out his coat and hat, and immediately goes to the door, presumably to go meet Clare. As he closes the door, he watches the current pick the paper up from under the pencil and whisk it out of the open window frame… again. Tom bursts into laughter and closes the door behind him.
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)
Create a visual plot diagram of “Contents of the Dead Man’s Pocket”.
- 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.)