Short Story Compare/Contrast Assignment Comparison/Contrast

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Mr. Davis

English 7: Short Story

Short Story Compare/Contrast Assignment


Many great stories are interpreted through film. During a comparison/contrast writing piece, writers note similarities and differences between the adapted film and the original text.


Subject: A film version of a short story you enjoy

Form: A comparison

Purpose: to analyze differences between film and story

Audience: Family and classmates
Writing the Compare/Contrast

When Desmond wrote his comparison/contrast of “Lamb to the Slaughter,” he focused on the following elements:

  • MEANING: The first paragraph introduces both versions and describes the message of the short story and film.

  • CHARACTERS: The second paragraph focuses on characterization.

  • KEY SCENES: The third paragraph deals with the key scenes included or excluded. Omissions are parts that have been left out.

  • THOUGHTS: The final paragraph tells what Desmond thought of the film version. Notice, it does not use first person.

You will decide which elements you wish to use for your compare/contrast. It is highly recommended that you focus on similar elements that are used to create the film’s meaning.

Both Alfred Hitchcock’s screen interpretation and Roald Dahl’s short story, “Lamb to the Slaughter” show the terrible outcome of a love gone sour. Whether film or story, the thrilling interaction between Mary Maloney and her late husband’s detective coworkers, captures every audience.

Characters in both versions are exciting and useful. Mrs. Maloney, however, appears to be more diabolical in the film, where as in the story she seemed to just fall into her evil plot. Her behavior is chilling and real within the movie; the final scene ends with her chuckling in a frightening manner. The movie made her much more deliberate in her actions.

Another feature which stood out was the killing scene. While the movie dramatically showed the final moments of Mr. Maloney’s death, the story built more suspense. It was more exciting because readers must create the scene in their heads.

Finally, the movie seemed to cut out the conversation between Mary and the grocery clerk—a crucial piece which the story covered in detail. This part was needed because it showed how cunning Mary was to go out and talk to others just after the killing. A film cannot carry every piece of a story; however, this was a piece that should have remained.

In looking at both, the traditional short story wins but only because it played to the reader’s ability to visualize. Both versions were exciting and frightening, but nothing can compare to the original story.


The beginning identifies the director and story and tells about the meaning of the story.


The middle paragraphs focus on characters and omissions.


The ending reflects on the viewer’s thoughts.

RESPONDING TO THE READING. Go back and view the film on your own. Think about how Desmond uses the following traits in his comparison/contrast; then answer the questions that follow each trait.

  • Ideas (1) What did Desmond notice about the film that you did not? Explain

  • Organization (2) What is the main purpose for each of the paragraphs in Desmond’s review?

  • Voice and Word Choice (3) What words show Desmond’s feelings about this poem? What transitions were used between ideas or paragraphs?





Tonight, go back and view the film again. You may find this through YouTube-just search for a version of the film. Try to find the same one we viewed in class, but other versions may work as well. Take careful notes for yourself in the four main categories:



KEY SCENES: Omissions are parts that have been left out.


  1. PREWRITING: Understanding a Short Story

The first step to understanding a story is reading it--again. Read your story quickly, scanning for the most crucial parts of the plot, and then consider the questions below.

stories are full of meaning. To understand the meaning of your story, ask yourself the following questions:

  • (1). What is the overall message of the story?

  • (2). How do characters contribute to the meaning?

  • (3). As a viewer, which version (film or story) was better at conveying the meaning?

stories contain characters. Ask yourself the following questions to focus on characters:

  • (4). Which characters seemed to be most important?

  • (5). Were the actors appropriately chosen for the characters?

Key Scenes:
Focus on the key scenes of the film:

  • (6). What key scenes needed to be in the film to make it accurate?

  • (7). How well were those scenes interpreted?

Thoughts: (8). How did you feel about the overall interpretation of the film? Was it effective? Entertaining? Was it a bore? Why?

  1. WRITING: Creating Your First Draft

With your prewriting in hand, you are ready to write the first draft of your compare/contrast. Take it one paragraph at a time.

  • BEGINNING PARAGRAPH: In your first paragraph, name the story (in quotation marks) and the author as well as the film director. Then summarize the story’s meaning by using information you have already gathered. End with a statement that sums up how you feel about the story based on your response to question 3.

  • MIDDLE PARAGRAPHS: Use questions 4-7 to write the middle paragraphs of your review. In the first middle paragraph, describe the characters of the film. In the second middle paragraph, focus on the key scenes and omissions.

  • ENDING PARAGRAPH: In your last paragraph, explain your feelings about the film interpretation. Leave your reader with a decisive choice as to which was better. AVOID FIRST PERSON PRONOUNS.

  1. REVISING Your First Draft

Begin the revision process with the standard CIRCLE, SLASH, and COMBINE before focusing on these more specific guiding questions with a peer reviser.


    • Does the writer introduce both the director and the author?

    • Is the title of the story in quotation marks?

    • Does the writer clearly identify the meaning of the story and explain how they feel?


    • Are characters clearly described? Could you suggest any stronger adjectives to make them clearer?

    • Focus on the key scenes paragraph (paragraph three). Does the writer thoroughly explain which scenes were needed? Can you offer any suggestions?


    • Search for personal pronouns (I, me, my, our, etc.) and DESTROY!

    • Read the final sentences: does it leave the reader with a definite opinion of the story? Offer feedback as needed.


Scan your paper and three other papers for glaring surface errors. Be tenacious with your scanning to ensure you don’t commit one of the fatal errors:

  • Spelling: check that all words are spelled correctly.

  • Punctuation-beware of COMMA SPLICES, and pay particular attention to the need for end punctuation.

  • Personal Pronouns-keep the voice of your speaker to a third person perspective. Avoid using PERSONAL PRONOUNS.

  • Note SENTENCE STARTERS: make sure sentences begin in different ways.

  • USE A TOOLBOX STRATEGY: This will be highlighted on your draft:

    • Adjectives out of order

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