“The Waste Land” by Alan Paton is a very brief short story structured around a single event – a man is ambushed by some thieves and eventually manages to escape them, but accidentally kills one of the attackers, who, most probably, turns out to be his son.

Most shorts stories are structured using a plot, which refers to a series of consecutive moments marking certain points in the narrative: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution.

In what follows, we will look at the structure of “The Waste Land” and outline the plot elements along with relevant narrative techniques.


The title of the short story is very suggestive. Waste land usually refers to an abandoned area, either barren or full of waste. However, it does not tell us much about the plot. The title has actually two meanings in the short story. On the one hand, it refers to the physical place called “the waste land”, full of wires, iron ...

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