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How it Happened

Short story presentation

Aditya Jain
Aditya Ranganathan
Kanish Shah
Malvika Rathod
Late at night a middle aged man decided to drive his own “thirty-
horse- power robur” car.

He decides to test this car and asks his chauffer to sit on the next
seat, even after the chauffer warned him as he wasn’t sure whether
his master could manage this car.
They come across a lot of twists and turns and eventually this leads
to the death of both the loyal chauffer and the owner.

The owner is then welcomed to heaven by his role model Stanley. The
man he always admired. And to an extent the owner cant realize he is
dead. He is reassured when Stanley informs him.
Explaining the title
Explaining the title:

The title suits the story and gives a very mysterious effect. It gives a
touch to the story, that makes the reader want to read on. The
whole story is linked to the title “How It Happened” and explains
every bit of the incident.

From the starting of the short story, Arthur Conan Doyle (the
author) uses great sequence of words and sentences to explain what
happened in a particular incident.
I think the most important element supporting the story would be
the plot. The plot explains the sequence of events that are very
essential to explain the setting, characters and theme.

The strong plot explains the setting very well.

The character descriptions aren't very important and don’t effect the
story to much.

The setting is fairly important and effects the story, as the main
conflict is related to the setting.

The theme is very strong as the main idea of the story is left on the
reader to decide
Predominant element of the story
I think the most important element supporting the story would be
the plot.

The plot explains the sequence of events that are very essential
to explain the setting, characters and theme. The strong plot
explains the setting very well.

The character descriptions aren't very important and don’t effect

the story to much.

The setting is fairly important and effects the story, as the main
conflict is related to the setting.

The theme is very strong as the main idea of the story is left on
the reader to decide
Main character, conflict
The main character is the narrator. The story is focused on him
and his actions lead to the conflict.
The narrator has to take decisions and try to solve the conflict
(man vs. fate) (man vs. machine)

The conflict: Internal and External

The narrator has to try to solve the conflict with the car.
He can flee the car by jumping out, but he decides to stay and
try his luck with fate. He fights his fear and stays in the car
Climax/High point
•The narrator had a brand new car
which met him at the station with
Perkins at the wheel.
• The narrator sat at the wheel to
drive the car home. The mechanism
of the new car was different from
the old so the narrator had to
master that mechanism.
•Things went well till the narrator
went to a hill where the trouble
Continuation of climax/high point
The car went down the slope with
great speed.
There were trouble-some moments at
three corners and then finally the car
crashed landed into the right hand
pillar of the narrator’s gate.
Close of the story/Falling action
• The new car with the narrator at the wheel and Perkins
beside him went smoothly at first, things went wrong
when they had to negotiate the hills to reach the
narrator’s home at the foot of the hill, the car stuck
between gears.

It was then speeding at a great rate, the car sped along

and banged into the gate of the narrator who became
unconscious, later in this condition the narrator became
aware of his existence
Continuation of falling
• He saw his college friend Stanley standing nearby
to help him get up.

• After this we learn that Stanley had died in the

Boer war and we realize that the narrator himself
had gone in the Land Of Sleep.
•This story creates a mood of surprise,
thoughts, and a shock.
• All along we think that the narrator is a
living person.
• The appearance of Stanley makes us
feel that help will be given to the narrator
and he will survive the crash but there
comes a surprise and a shock when we
read that Stanley had died years ago and
the narrator too was dead.
Is it Realistic or True to
•This story is true to life. A new car needs to
be carefully studied because the mechanism
would be different from the old car.
• In this story, the narrator was fond of the
gears of the old car and not the new car.
The narrator made the greatest mistake by
thinking that it was not difficult to master
the new car.
It was also a foolish thing to learn a new
mechanism in the dark for the net result is
disaster as it happened with the narrator
and he lost his life.
This story is a lesson to all youngsters not to
be foolish and overconfident while driving
new cars.
There should never be a desperate hurry in
mastering the mechanism of a new car. It is
wiser to learn slowly and calmly at a proper
Due to such foolishness youngsters pose a
threat to everyone and to themselves and
loose their precious lives.
•This story has a flashback as the narrator says that he
remembers something that happened one
evening and others were like broken dreams. It is a
recollection of a dead man.

•This story is a short story and not a

condensation or a excerpt. It is also not

taken from any collection of stories .

•The perspective the story is told from is the masters point of view,
though this is not completely clear till the second last paragraph.
•The importance of this is that it was the masters decision to drive
the car in the dark as well as not jump out of the car for safety.
•If it was from the Chauffeur’s point of view, the feelings of
helplessness, loyalty and/or lack of influence and power.
The primary action is when the brakes of the
car stop working.
This is because this action is the beginning of
the conflict.
This occurs just at the brow of Claystill Hill.
This is debatable, as the primary action may
be the decision of the protagonist deciding to
drive the car. The reason I feel that this is
minor as that this action doesn’t directly lead
to the conflict. This action occurs just before
the two characters enter the car in London
The time setting in this story is London in the 1910’s.
This time setting is usually portrayed as a very grey,
drab, cold and utterly boring place in history. This may
be because of the war; WW1 was going on at this time,
though I think this had less effect on the setting.
Analyzing the story, logically, I could not be winter as
there would be snow and they wouldn’t drive. If it was
summer, the author would have given some
characteristics. Hence, I think it was spring or autumn.
The time of day is almost midnight. They commence the
journey at eleven thirty but what time the crash
happened was not specified. The distance (five miles) so
it could not be very long.

Time setting
Duration of story

The story covers less than half an hour.

However it is not specified how much time
elapsed after the crash when the two
characters wake up.
How the story starts and initial

The story is a flashback, where the

narrator is telling a story of his past which
he remembers clearly.
At that time, it is around eleven thirty.
Then the master takes the decision to
drive the car himself as it is new and he
wants to try it out.
Rising action
I think there are two rising actions in this
The first it when the master, who is
driving the car, cannot change gears and
when he tries to brake the car, both of the
brakes break!
At this point the car is going out of control
at an extremely high speed.
This is the first rising action.
Rising Action- continuation
The second rising action is much briefer.
This occurs after the crash where the
reader if quite confused exactly what
The rising action is caused by the sight of
“Stanley” who had died in a war.
This, again, builds up to the climax where
“Stanley” says tells the protagonist is dead
as well.
Personally, I believe this rising action is
much more effective. Though it is briefer, I
feel it is better.
 The theme would be “Ego overpowering
common sense.
 Loyalty of an employee towards his
employer-displayed by chauffer.
 Person narrating his own death in a
euphemistic way.
Underlying theme
Common sense is not too common.
Identification of characters
As a person, I tend to make foolish
mistakes which I already know that I will
be unable to accomplish.
People often fool themselves just to
satisfy their conscience.
Overexcitement as well as overconfidence
leads to drastic results.
 The “glaring headlights of the car”
symbolizes imminent death and feelings
of fear.
“ shadow of oaks” symbolic of showing
that the author is in heaven.
Mentioning of “ stanley” symbolizes god
like figure.
The car and its owner.
The author was incompatible with the car.
The chauffer was a better driver to the
same car.
Builds suspense by describing every minor
Giving us hope throughout the story.
Suspense ending.
The author is incompatible with his own
His own car brings him to death.
Driver’s on passengers seat and owner is
on driver’s seat.
Perkins survived the crash while his
employer died. ( the driver generally faces
The setting is in London and English men
are generally not very good drivers.
Admitting ones mistake especially a man
is too hard to digest.
Dynamic Character/hero
The author could be a dynamic character.
First making the foolish mistake of actually
driving the car he was not very familiar with.
Not listening to the chauffer’s advice but later
admitting his mistake when its too late.
Perkins is the hero for risking his life for his
Figures of speech
“I remember some things…and others like some vague broken dreams”
– simile.
- The wheels were whirring like a high wind ( Simile) and the body
creeking and groaning with the strain. (Onomatopoeia.)
- I remember thinking what an awful and yet majestic sight ….
- We were just a great, roaring, golden death …. (Personification)

The words seem to choke my throat –
He looked at me with the same, old,
gentle, wistful smile (Synonymia)
I remember asking Perkins, ….., how she
had gone (Personification)
Perkins behaved splendidly.
Impression for the reader
Leaves the reader with a sense of shock
after giving them so much hope.
Reader’s impression of perkins is that of a
hero and the author’s impression is
someone who is arrogant and rebellious.
Personality traits
Perkins: loyalty/kindness/politness/caring
he allowed the author to drive the car even
though he knew the author didn’t know
how to.
Later he asks the owner to jump off as
being caring. When the owner decided to
stay in he showed his loyalty by staying
Author- arrogant/ rebellious/ risk
Drove a car he couldn’t really drive, in the
dark, without much experience.
Stayed in even when the chauffer asked
him to jump as he thought he would make
it inspite of the high level of risk involved.
Showing his arrogance.
Stanley- humble/polite/ role model/ god
like figure.
( invited author to heaven)
Car- weird/murderer/stubborn.
(personification of the car)
This story has a strong moral :
Never be over ambitious when it comes to
your life.
Sometimes your own ego can kill you.
Author’s Intention
The author’s intention to warn all the
people who let their ego over power their
common sense.
That sometimes such foolish mistakes can
lead to big losses.