Posted by: When Grief Group Isn't An Option | November 4, 2009

Short Story – Leiningen versus the Ants (Intro – Plot)

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IMG_3089photo courtesy of Hays Cummins, Miami University

Short Story Plot Leiningen versus the Ants by Carl Stephenson

“Leiningen versus the Ants” is lengthy (over 8000 words) and filled with challenging vocabulary. But it’s a classic. With many thanks to Dr. Hays Cummins from Miami University, I am able to show you what Leiningen and his men faced – 20 square miles of an “elemental” who were looking for the Full Meal Deal.

I used this story to teach “Rising Action” because it is filled with what I call the “Good-Bad” events that lead the reader to the climax. On the student handout, these become G and B. I had tried calling these events “Fortunate” and “Unfortunate” events as one considered how the protagonist would fare but the abbreviations just weren’t appropriate.

For today’s blog entry (and I had to learn how to build a table to make it happen; special thanks to my big brother the computer whiz), I will offer simply the main gist of the plot outline. More will come with suggestions regarding vocabulary, visualizing (the river, weir, outer and inner moat,etc.), use of figurative language, and more in future blogs.

I. Introduction:

A. Setting:

1. Time:
Past X
Present Future

2. Specific time: summer

3. Place: plantation in Brazil

4. Mood (Atmosphere): tension, fear, suspense

B. Characters:

Physical Descriptionbristling gray hair, bulky nose, lucid eyes, had the look of an aging and shabby eagle
Character Traitsstubborn, smart, bold

C. Antecedent Action: Leiningen had been on the plantation for three years and had prepared for anything and everything – “including your ants.”

II. Initial Incident:

A. Type(s) of conflict: Man versus Nature

B. Problem (in question form): Who will win the struggle – Leiningen or the ants?

C. 1st event that shows the problem: District Commissioner tells Leiningen that a column of ants that’s 10 miles long and 2 miles wide will soon attack his plantation.

III. Rising Action:

– the events which begin after the Initial Incident and that make us wonder about the answer to the problem.
Good – Leiningen says he won’t run from the antsGood – Leiningen has fought other drought, flood, plague, etc. and won

Good – Leiningen calls men together and prepares them before panic sets in

Bad – the ants arrive. Their approach is announced by a stampede

Good – Leiningen has a water-filled ditch around three sides of the plantation

Good – Leiningen has built a dam to control the water in the ditch

Good – tree branches that hung over the water on one side have been removed

Good – women and children were taken across the river to safely

Good – Leiningen has also built an inner moat and connected it to gasoline lines

Bad – when Leiningen’s men see the ants they scream and carry on

Bad – Leiningen wonders if he hasn’t taken on more than he can manage

Bad – ants move around and seem to be intelligent, communicating with one another

and so on . . . and so on . . .

IV. Climax

V. Epilogue/Resolution

Be sure to see the other entries about “Leiningen versus the Ants.”


  1. Hey u guys rule for making this never understood my homework went online found this amazing website and used this webite to do my homework thats for marks
    u people are my daily heros
    sincerily ayah

  2. thanks for the helpi appreciate it

  3. you forgot the climax and the resolution 😦

    • I’m not sure what you mean. I have a total of 4 blog entries on the Leiningen story. Have you seen them all – especially Short Story: Leingingen Vs. The Ants Part 3?

  4. You didn’t include the exposition!

    • Ah, the exposition. Now there’s a term I haven’t heard for a long time. As I recall, the Exposition is another term for the Introduction, as the Epilogue, Falling Action, Denouement and Resolution are all terms used for the final part of a short story. Please excuse my oversight and mark it down to my not wanting to be an expositionist.

  5. Usually I don’t learn post on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do it! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thanks, very nice post.

  6. Thank you for sharing, I am homeschooling my 16 year old daughter and can use any online info!

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