Questions tagged [short-stories]

Questions about stories with a fully developed plot, themes, and characters, but significantly shorter and less detailed than a novel.

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8
votes
2answers
5k views

Is there any deeper significance to Borges's “The South”?

"The South" is a short story by Jorge Luis Borges about a man, Dahlmann, who is injured by bashing his head against a window, but makes an almost miraculous recovery after a long stint in hospital. He ...
6
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1answer
3k views

Why are pronouns used in this way in Nalo Hopkinson's “Shift”?

I just read the short story "Shift" by Nalo Hopkinson, which is freely available online. It's a modern, Caribbean-themed story inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest. One thing which confused me on ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there any deeper significance to the Borges story “The End”?

"The End" is a very short story, not much over 1000 words, in Borges's collection Fictions. It describes a paralysed man, Recabarren, who observes an unnamed black guitar player avenge himself on ...
6
votes
1answer
3k views

In the short story “Should Wizard hit Mommy” by John Updike,what is the author conveying through his narrated story and contradicting actions

The short story "Should Wizard hit Mommy" by John Updike (a short five-to-ten-minute read) is on my curriculum; it involves a father who tells a nap-time story to his daughter. It appears to be a ...
5
votes
1answer
370 views

How unreliable is the narrator in The Repairer of Reputations?

Spoilers abound in this question about this sci-fi horror short, so you might want to read it at Project Gutenberg first. However, there are two key points during the tale when things the narrator ...
5
votes
1answer
215 views

Which short stories are falsely attributed to Guy de Maupassant, and why?

Thanks to @GarethRees's sleuthing and editing, I just learned that several French short stories found in the Project Gutenberg version of the "Entire Original Maupassant Short Stories" are in fact not ...
5
votes
2answers
219 views

Is “The Most Dangerous Game” Literature?

Way back in high school, many many years ago, our teacher described to us what made something literature or not. This lesson always stuck with me for two reasons: 1) I didn't really think it was ...
10
votes
0answers
216 views

'Classical' horror short story in which overwork is linked to a supernatural demon

Having just had an exceptionally busy week, I've been trying to recall the details of a relevant short story whose name escapes me. I have the feeling it was a fairly old, 'classical' horror story - ...
8
votes
2answers
411 views

Why is the colour of Caliban's girls important?

I recently read Nalo Hopkinson's short story "Shift", which is freely available online. The central character is a reimagining of Shakespeare's Caliban, a Caribbean black man who finds white women to ...
2
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0answers
65 views

Political backdrop to “The Lancer's Wife” (Franco-Prussian War)?

"La Uhlane" is a short story by Jean Richepin, whose English translation "The Lancer's Wife" was erroneously attributed to Guy de Maupassant in the Walter Dunne edition of Maupassant's works. It ...
28
votes
1answer
6k views

Why did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle decide to kill off this character?

In the short story "The Final Problem", Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made the decision to kill off Sherlock Holmes (although he did bring him back again in the story of "The Empty House"). This was met with ...
9
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2answers
5k views

How many gables are there in the four-gabled house?

In "The Fifth Gable" by Kay Chronister, the protagonist interacts with the women who live in the four-gabled house. Which, suddenly and inexplicably, at the end of the story finds itself with five ...
8
votes
1answer
126 views

What does “minds her helium like a lady” mean in “The Terrible Voyage of the Toad”?

I have the following passage from 'The Terrible Voyage of the Toad' (1878) by Edward Page Mitchell: "Without intendin' to disperidge," continued the deacon, "her bottom's more putty'n timber." ...
7
votes
2answers
997 views

What does “precious rascals” mean in “The Blue Scarab”?

In "The Blue Scarab" in Dr. Thorndyke's Case-Book by R. Austin Freeman, Mr. Blowgrave, whose deed-box was stolen, was talking to Dr. Thorndyke: "The story concerns my great-grandfather ...
7
votes
1answer
4k views

Why is there a focus on the atmosphere in The Fall of the House of Usher?

In The Fall of the House of Usher, Edgar Allen Poe has several spots where he talks about the gloomy, cloudy, atmosphere: As I looked at the house, it seemed to me that it was being wrapped in a ...
5
votes
2answers
926 views

What is the meaning of this sentence from A Retrieved Reformation?

This is a line from O. Henry's A Retrieved Reformation. The detective Ben Price is confident that Jimmy, now out on parole, has been to crack safes and: He'll do his bit next time without any ...
5
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0answers
33 views

Is artists leaving their art forever a significant theme in R. K. Narayan's writing?

While reading the 1982 collection Malgudi Days of R. K. Narayan short stories, I noticed a common theme appearing in several of them, namely that of an artist who leaves their creative work behind ...
4
votes
1answer
116 views

What does Dupin mean about a seal formed of bread?

In Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Purloined Letter", a minister known only as D-- has a letter which he is keeping for the purposes of blackmail, and the police prefect G-- comes to Dupin for help ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Why, in “Dagon” by Lovecraft does the narrator say that the readers will “never fully realize”?

The beginning of the Lovecraft story "Dagon" goes like this: I am writing this under an appreciable mental strain, since by tonight I shall be no more. Penniless, and at the end of my supply of the ...
4
votes
1answer
193 views

In Connie Willis' short story “Ado”, what is Morticians International's objection to the use of the word 'casket' in *The Merchant of Venice*?

Connie Willis' "Ado" is a short story in which language is censored to an absurd degree so as to not offend anyone. The protagonist is a school teacher who decides to cover Shakespeare, but ...
4
votes
1answer
100 views

Identification of a Maupassant short story where a young man is upset by the past infidelities of his mistress

In a short story by Maupassant, a young man is upset by the past infidelities of his mistress, a rather paradoxical situation since he came much later after the infidelities (and somehow benefited ...
4
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0answers
85 views

What was her wish in Haruki Murakami's “Birthday Girl”?

Haruki Murakami's short story "Birthday Girl", available to read online, is about a girl working part-time as a waiter who gets to make a special wish on her twentieth birthday. The first-person ...
3
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0answers
54 views

How is the possession by “The Whalebone Parrot” related to Loretta's Native American identity?

Darcie Little Badger's short story "The Whalebone Parrot" tells the story of young Emily in the 19th century struggling with her sister Loretta's possession by what turns out to be the eponymous ...
2
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1answer
95 views

Meaning and historical reference in “Ind Aff”

In Fay Weldon's short story "Ind Aff or Out of Love in Sarajevo" I found the following passage: “The Hungro-Austrarian Empire,” said Peter to me, “didn't so much collapse as fail to exist ...
2
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0answers
111 views

Who is the second narrator character in Haruki Murakami's “Birthday Girl”?

Haruki Murakami's short story "Birthday Girl", available to read online, is about a girl working part-time as a waiter who gets to make a special wish on her twentieth birthday. Much of it is written ...
1
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0answers
37 views

Is the phrase “lurking suspicion” in this context humour?

I am reading the short story "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" by Mark Twain. I was wondering if the author's usage of the phrase "lurking suspicion" in the first ...
1
vote
1answer
39 views

What is the hidden meaning of “Bad News” known to Egbert and Lady Anne?

In The Reticence of Lady Anne, Saki writes: Both Egbert and Lady Anne would have preferred something from The Yeomen of the Guard, which was their favourite opera. In matters artistic they had a ...
1
vote
1answer
87 views

What is the language which appears in “The Whalebone Parrot”?

"The Whalebone Parrot" by Darcie Little Badger is a short story freely available online about a family living on a small island with a cat and a parrot. An important theme is that both sisters are "...
0
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0answers
26 views

Short story - Man transports a dead dog to a field, but gets accused of murder with the blood in his van considered to be evidence

I think I read this in an anthology, probably in the 1980s or 1990s, possibly one of the Alfred Hitchcock anthologies. At the beginning, a man is transporting a dead dog to a field to bury it. I'm not ...