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The Way of the World
Bob Petersburg had been the top salesman at Midwest Motor Parts for years. He had a
network of clients that spread out in every direction for about as far as he was willing to
drive. His clients loved him for his affable manner and his honesty, and Bob felt that the
world was his.
Maybe it was Bob’s for a little while, but then the world started changing around him. It
happened slowly at first with some of the other salesmen carrying pagers and using
email to deal with clients. Bob just said that there was no substitute for a firm
handshake. Then his sales base started eroding. Many of his old clients were retiring.
He'd visit their offices and only to find that the old, familiar faces had been replaced by
young, cold faces. These new faces asked Bob for his email address. Bob said that
email could never replace the intimacy of a handwritten letter.
Time passed and it continued to pass by Bob. Rick Summers was Bob’s manager and
he changed too. Bob had always thought that Rick was a great guy. They played golf
together and barbecued occasionally, but Rick's wife got sick and he retired. Rick was
replaced by Mike Christmas.
Mike Christmas was not as understanding of Bob's shortcomings as Rick had been. Rick
hated computers just as much as Bob did, so he never bothered Bob about embracing
new business standards, but Mike was from the new school. One of Mike's first actions
as sales chief was to issue company smart phones to every salesman. When Bob did
not send emails, take photos of signed purchase orders, or reply to Mike’s text
messages, Mike grew impatient with him Bob.
One night Bob came home in a particularly somber mood. Mike had just thrashed him
around the office for the better part of an hour after Bob had lost a few more clients, and
Bob felt that the world had become a terrible place. He wanted nothing more than to run
away from his job, but he felt that he had to watch over his family. At that moment,
however, Bob’s family was watching over him.
Noticing the pain that his father wore on his face, Bobby Junior approached and asked
him what was wrong. Bob Senior attempted to keep his troubles from his son, but his
emotional state was such that he just couldn't help but to pour out his heart. Bobby
wanted to help his Dad and he tried to listen, but he didn't know anything about motor
parts, salesmanship, or what Mike Christmas's problem was. But one thing Bobby did
know was how to work a mobile phone.
Bobby spent the next month teaching his old man how to use his company phone. He
started his dad off by playing Angry Birds so that he could learn basic swiping and
tapping gestures. It took Bob Senior three nights to beat the first level. Over the next few
weeks they worked on sending text messages, and then taking pictures, and then
attaching pictures to the text messages. Bob Senior took a long time to complete these
tasks, but he was steadily learning. By the time Bobby Junior finished teaching him
about email, Bob had become so passionate about his phone that he went out and
bought a belt holster to protect the screen. He wore this proudly despite Bobby Junior's
Soon Bob began applying the skills that his son had taught him to his business. Bob was
stunned at how technology simplified many of the problems that he had run into in the
past. He filled orders for his clients though a purchase management system accessed
from his mobile phone while he waited for more purchase orders to arrive in his email.
As his sales climbed, Bob couldn't believe that it had taken him this long to adopt such
useful technology. There was even some talk that Bob might be up for salesman of the
year again. Even though Mike Christmas and Bob would never go on to play golf or
barbecue, Mike did leave Bob alone after that, which was all that Bob ever wanted from
him anyway.
DIRECTIONS: Complete the following questions.
1. Author’s Purpose:
(Why did the author write this?)
2. Genre: ____________________________
3. Narrator’s Point of View: ________________________________________________
1st-person, 2nd-person, 3rd-person objective, 3rd-person limited, or 3rd-person omniscient
4 & 5. Summarize the text:
Five key events from beginning, middle, & end.
6. Exposition
A. Setting:_____________________________________________________________
(When and where does the story take place?)
B. Conflict:____________________________________________________________
(Describe the conflict in the story.)
7. Rising Action: List some events that occur before the climax.
The turning point
Falling Action: List some events that occur after the climax.
When the conflict is solved
DIRECTIONS: Determine what the theme is for each story and explain your answer.
Remember, a theme is a lesson or message in the story.
1. After setting his alarm clock for PM instead of AM, Eric woke up late for school. In his
haste, he forgot to pack a lunch or bring lunch money. Eric did not mind much at the
time and figured that he could just eat some of his friend's food. During lunchtime, Eric
explained his situation to the people at his lunch table. His friends were sympathetic to
his cause, but they only packed lunches for themselves, not Eric. Katie offered Eric a
small bag of carrots. "Yuck! I hate carrots. Thanks anyway," Eric said as he declined
Katie's offer. Chuck offered Eric his milk, to which Eric responded, "Is that skim milk?
Ewww…. I hate skim milk. Does anyone have any chocolate milk?" Some people at the
table did have chocolate milk, but they did not want to give their milk to Eric. To break
the silence, Ben offered Eric half of his egg salad sandwich, but Eric again refused quite
rudely, "Egg salad is gross. Doesn't anyone have anything good for me?" But that was
the last offer that Eric would receive that day.
What is the theme of the story?
What happens in the story that leads you to believe this?
2. Tommy wanted a skateboard badly. Sometimes he would stay after school just to
watch the older boys do tricks on the stairs. Tommy thought that it looked like so much
fun to grind down rails and kickflip over gaps. He imagined performing jaw-dropping
tricks on the various landmarks he passed on his way home. After months of saving
money and begging his grandma, Tommy finally got a skateboard. With a beaming grin
across his face, Tommy ran out to his driveway and attempted one of the tricks that he
had often imagined himself performing. As Tommy put his first foot on his skateboard,
the skateboard slid out from under him and Tommy fell on his butt. He broke out into
tears. That was the last time that Tommy rode a skateboard.
What is the theme of the story?
What happens in the story that leads you to believe this?
3. Keith was stressed about his research paper. He had to write five pages about
something that interested him, but he couldn't think of anything interesting. He decided
that he would just play basketball. The next night Keith sat down to work on his paper
again, but he still couldn't think of anything that interested him, so he listened to music
and played video games instead. The next few days went much the same: he told
himself that he wasn't interested in anything, and then he read comic books, watched
movies, or read about classic cars. Keith was worried now because the paper was due
very soon, and he still didn't even have a topic. He tried to think of something that he
found interesting, but again he couldn't, so he just played his guitar and cooked a meal
for his family. He loved to cook. At last the due date was here and Keith still didn't even
have a topic. By now he had accepted that he would fail. "If only I could have found an
interesting topic," he told himself.
What is the theme of the story?
What happens in the story that leads you to believe this?
4. "Mike, could you please fix the leak in the roof?" Katie asked her husband politely, but
he was sick of what felt like his wife nagging him. "I'll get to it when I get to it," he replied
brusquely. A small drip-drop of water collected in a cooking pot on the living room floor.
The next time it rained, Katie had to use a large bucket. The leak was growing in size.
"Mike, I really need you to patch the roof. It is getting worse," Katie warned her husband,
but again he was in no mood to take direction. "Do I really need to keep saying this,
Katie? I'm tired from working. I want to watch the game. I will patch the leak later," but
Mike did not patch the leak and it continued expanding. A few weeks later a torrential
rainstorm hit. The water poured through the roof. Some of it may have damaged the
floor, but Mike didn't even seem to notice until the rains fell on his widescreen television.
What is the theme of the story?
What happens in the story that leads you to believe this?
5. Kristin had a good reputation. She was known as a bright student who frequently
made honor roll and did volunteer work in her community. Nikki and Simone had
reputations too, but they were known for causing trouble, getting into fights, and
behaving dishonestly. One day Kristin was walking to the little store on the corner to get
some healthy snacks when she bumped into Nikki and Simone. Much to Kristin's
surprise, Nikki and Simone were being really nice to her. "How come we never hang out
with Kristin? She cool," Simone said. Kristin had always quietly admired Nikki and
Simone as girls who didn't take any stuff, so she enjoyed the compliments and the
attention. Soon they were all walking into the little store together. The girls were playing
around and having a good time while Kristin shopped. She picked out a few snacks and
paid for her purchases, but on the way out the store owner stopped them. "Let me see
what you've got there, little lady," he said as he reached into Nikki's pocket and pulled
out several candy bars. "Now you," he said as he went into Simone's backpack and
retrieved several bags of chips and packs of gum. He searched Kristin too, but didn't find
anything. Kristin begged and pleaded with him as he called the police, "Please, sir, I'm a
good girl." To which the man replied, "If you are such a good girl, then why are you
hanging out with these two?" Kristin did not know.
What is the theme of the story?
What happens in the story that leads you to believe this?
Birkan Akın
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