Point of Attack in "A&P, " "The Story of an Hour, " and "To Build a Fire"

James VanValkenburg
Freshman Comp II, Major Essay I

Efficiency in Point of Attack and Precipitating Dramatic Events

Whether it be a movie, play, book, or speech, a good writer needs to have a strong point of attack.   There has to be a hook.   Something to catch the watcher/readers attention.   Point of attack is simply where a story begins.   In order to progress further into the dramatic structure, there must be precipitating dramatic events.   There can be one or many, but there must be at least one in order to lead into the rising action, climax, and falling action/resolution.   I plan to discuss here the efficiency used by John Updike, Kate Chopin, and Jack London to link the points of attack and precipitating dramatic events in the stories “A&P,” “The Story of an Hour,” and “To Build a Fire.”
I will begin with John Updike’s “A&P.”   The point of attack is the first sentence alone, “In walks three girls in nothing but bathing suits.”   The typical American male, in 1961, 2011, or any year between has just been hooked.   The title “A&P” already says a lot, but the writer establishes setting in the second sentence, “I’m in the third check-out slot, with my back to the door, so I don’t see them until they’re over by the bread,” letting the reader know it is some kind of food market.   So point of attack and setting are established in the first two sentences.   The precipitating dramatic events begin in the first paragraph, “I stood there with my hand on a box of HiHo crackers trying to remember if I rang it up or not.   I ring it up again and the customer starts giving me hell.”   The writer then uses the first half of the story describing the girls and the customer’s reactions to their attire in a public grocery, leading up to the precipitating dramatic event which is the intervention by Lengel, the Manager.   I believe the climax comes when Sammy exclaims “I quit,” as the girls are leaving the store.
Almost as efficient, if not more, is Kate Chopin’s...