Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Comparing of two short stories

This week in english class we were supposed to compare two short stories in groups of three. We chose to compare the two short stories "Sun-Powered Car" by Robert Burton Robinson and "Homework" by Jim Schicatano.  Here we have compared the plot, characters, setting, dialog, the conflict, point of view, resolution, theme, and length. 

Sun-Powered Car - a short story by Robert Burton Robinson

Are the plots much of the same? What happens to the main characters in both of the short stories?

In "Sun-Powered Car" the plot is about Malcolm who is working at a TV- station as a news reporter and is a little bit depressed about his job because he has worked there for twenty-five years and never got a promotion. He walks into a diner, and sees Ned and his two sons driving an old car with a solar panel on the top of it. He talks to the waitress Helen, and she tells about Ned inventing the car with a solar panel. Malcolm thinks that this is very interesting, and wants to make a news story about it, and decides to talk to Ned. He talks to Ned, but it becomes a disappointment when he finds out that the car is not solar panel driven, but son pedal driven. Anyway he decides that he want to make a news story about it. 

In "Homework" the plot is about this school boy, Jason, who is arguing with mostly his father but also a little with his mother about whether he should do his homework or not. They argue about this because Jason doesn't see the point of doing his homework which is so boring, and his parents think it’s important that he does his homework so he could get a good future life. They are also discussing who of Jason and his father who had the toughest childhood. In the end when they start becoming finished with the arguing, we are told that Jason’s mother and father both order food and snacks from their robot-servant, and they set on a hologram play with actors. In the very end when Jason has decided to obey his parents, after getting grounded and yelled at, and do his homework, he walks into his room, and then we are told that all he has to do is to plug a cable into his back head, and wait for two minutes while his homework are being downloaded to his brain. He finds this terribly boring and an awful waste of time, while his parents are so tired of working four hours a day, and getting served by robot servants etc. What a hard life?

The Characters
The main character in "Sun-Powered Car" is Malcolm, and the two secondary characters are Ned and Helen. Malcolm works at a TV-station as a news reporter and seems a little depressed and he says himself that he has given up his dream of sitting in the anchor chair. Ned is a man at the diner which is a farmer, and has invented a special car. The other secondary character Helen is a waitress at the diner, and she knows Ned and his sons quite well. 

The main characters in "Homework" are the boy Jason, and his father. The secondary character is Jason's mom. Jason is a boy who doesn't want to do his homework, and would rather play with his dog. Jason's father gets mad at Jason for not doing his homework as he should, but seems lazy himself. Jason's mother is just complaining about Jason not doing his homework. 

What do these characters have in common?

They don't have much in common we think. Malcolm in "Sun powered car" seems like a person who likes to work, but Jason and his father in "Homework" doesn't seem like they like to work at all, they actually seem quite lazy. The secondary characters in both short stories doesn't really have much in common either, but they have some similarities because both Ned and Jason's mother are a bit passive, but Ned speaks more at the end of the short story, and Jason's mother speaks and the beginning. 

In the short story “Sun Powered Car” the action takes place at a diner in a small town. The man Malcolm is stopping by to eat lunch, and meets the farmer Ned and the waitress Helen. The action in “Homework” happens in their own house, and Jason’s mother and father gets mad at him for not doing his homework.

What do these settings have in common?

In our point of view they don’t have so much in common. In “Sun Powered Car” the setting takes place at a diner as we said and in “Homework” it happens in their house. The first story, “Sun powered car”, is probably in our time zone, but the second one we think may be in the future because in the end of “Homework” we can read that Jason are doing his homework by downloading them to his brain for two minutes, and his parents are watching a hologram with actors while they are served snacks by a robot servant. The settings are also different because in “Homework” there is kind of an internal conflict in the family inside the house, while in “Sun powered car” the conflict or action takes place outside where Malcolm meet some strangers.

The Dialogue

Are the dialogues much the same in the two short stories or are they very different? Do they have many dialogues
 in the texts?

The dialogues in the short stories are quite the same, and they talk directly to each other, but in the text "Sun powered car" it is not much dialogue actually. The only time there is a dialogue is when Malcolm orders, when the waitress talks, and when Malcolm talks to Ned. "Sun powered car" mostly consists of Malcolm telling, but the author has put in some dialogue to make sure the story doesn't get boring it seems. In "Homework" the text mostly consists of dialogue actually! Jason and his father are mostly having a discussing about the homework, and are comparing how it is to be a child in their time, and how it was to be a child when Jason's parents were children. 

There’s not a big conflict in “Sun Powered Car”, but something we may be able to explain as a conflict is the conflict Malcolm has with himself and his job where he doesn’t get promoted. In “Homework” the conflict is about Jason who doesn’t want to do his homework, and doesn’t want to listen to his parents when they tell him to do his homework.

Point of view
The story “Sun powered Car” is written in 3rd person and so is the story “Homework”. Both of the stories remain in one point of view and they’re therefore easy to compare. In the first one the author is telling from Malcolm’s point of view and in the second one it’s told from Jason’s point of view. But even though we hear the stories from Malcolm and Jason’s point of view there is someone else telling us about their thoughts and experiences.

What becomes the resolution in the short stories? Does both end good or bad?

In "Sun powered car" the resolution becomes that Malcolm's day gets much better than he first thought because he finds a news-story which he can use. At the same time he finds out that the solar powered car isn't solar powered, but that Ned has just made the car so his sons can make it go by tramping on pedals. But it has a good ending because in the end Ned doesn't seem as much depressed as he did in the beginning. 

In "Homework" the resolution becomes that Jason has to do his homework and his mother and father can continue with their stuff. The little twist is that the homework Jason has to do is just to plug in a cable in his head for two minutes to download his homework to his brain! In addition Jason and his father were discussing which of them who had the toughest childhood! It ends well in a way, but not for Jason who has to do his terrible homework according to himself!


Do the short stories have some of the same theme? What are the differences and are there some similarities?

The two short stories has two different themes, in “Sun Powered Car” the theme is the sun-powered car which is quite special. We also think that some of the theme in “Sun powered car” is how little things you can discover in regular working days and how they can affect you in good ways. In the second one “Homework”, the theme is the boy’s homework and how things are in the time zone they are living in. We think some of the main theme is how the family in the future lives, and the irony in the text when Jason’s parents are talking about it being so much harder being a child in their childhood when they are sitting in their chairs watching a hologram play and getting served snacks by a robot and actually seem quite lazy. Also Jason the boy is talking about it being so much harder to be a child in his time, and complaining about his homework when all he has to do is to plug in a cable to his head and wait for two minutes while his homework are being downloaded to his brain, which seems even more lazy! So the theme can be how lazy we may end as in the future!

Both of the two short stories are pretty short, “Sun-Powered Car” has 1364 words and “Homework consists of 977 words.

In the end, here are some facts about the two authors who wrote “Sun-Powered Car” and “Homework".

Robert Burton Robinson
Robert Burton Robinson is from the United States. Robinson and his wife lives near Houston in Texas and they have three children and six grandchildren. He has worked over a lot of different fields over the years. He had for example a career in the music business but he has also been a milkman. Robinson loves spending time with his family, playing his guitar, watching movies and training yoga. He has written twenty-two short stories and one of them is “Sun-powered car”.

Jim Schicatano
Jim Schicatano graduated from Penn State University in 1984 with a bachelor degree in Science. He retired from his last job at Pennsylvania Senate Republican Cancus in 2010. He loves to write and has written countless short stories since high school. He has always taken writing really seriously and has also written some novels and a non-fiction book. Katinka, Ingeborg and I read “homework”.


  1. Can you write another plot comparison of I give you the sample of two short stories