I had a social compact for my classroom when I was teaching and found it greatly enhanced the teaching and learning process. Recently I decided to look for elements of my social compact in books that I read. It was the beginning of an interesting and ongoing journey.
A productive social compact in a classroom community is comprised of the following elements: effective communication, complex thinking, self-directed learning, collaboration, and community participation. Each one of these can be found in most novels to some extent.
Effective communicators are able to convey messages in a variety of formats. They take responsibility for the clarity, purpose, and the meaning of the messages they send. They also seek to interpret messages they receive objectively and accurately. They use a “public voice” when communicating within their social group, which means they attend to vocabulary, syntax, grammar, and spelling.
Effective communicators do not use the gift of language to abuse or disparage any member of the community. Instead, they use language to encourage, edify, and enlighten; they enhance the quality of life within the community.
The nature and degree of effective communication has a great influence on the plot line of a story, especially the lack of it. In the novel, as in the classroom, effective communication is a key element.