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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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 ...
27
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1answer
7k views

English short story where a wife makes an investigation officer eat the murder weapon

I remember reading this English short story during my school days; it was part of our English curriculum 18-19 years ago. Plot: It starts with a wife killing her husband with turkey or chicken or ...
22
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0answers
429 views

Was Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum at all inspired by A Predicament?

Poe's satirical short story A Predicament tells the story of a woman who is slowly decapitated by the minute hand of a large cathedral clock. In all its ridiculous, it was supposed to be a horror ...
20
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2answers
4k views

What is Asimov's joke in “Death of a Foy”?

I recently came upon a short story, Death of a Foy (1980), in the compendium The Winds of Change (1983). In the intro, Asimov states that he was "hardly able to stop laughing", but I just can't seem ...
18
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1answer
2k views

Sci-Fi Short Story - Life Saving Weight Loss

I recall a short story I read in High School. We read it in English class so it was likely published in an anthology intended for use in schools. (This was in Scotland in the 1970's if that helps.) ...
17
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1answer
12k views

What is the bananafish? What does it represent?

In J.D. Salinger's A Perfect Day For Bananafish, Seymour, the main character, talks about a bananafish. He tells a little girl about the bananafish. The little girl says she sees the fish. What is ...
17
votes
2answers
655 views

Short story about a man condemned to death because he cannot remember the details about a country

I once read a short story about a man (a journalist?) visiting a prison inmate. He was incarcerated for a crime he did not commit, and it was a case of mistaken identity or insufficient alibi. The ...
15
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1answer
1k views

Science fiction short story with the ability to jump from world to world

I read this not long ago, maybe a year. It was either a short story or a novella, certainly not longer. Read in English, in the US. The story was definitely older though, no clue exactly when but ...
13
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2answers
228 views

Can anyone remind me who wrote this essay about qualifying remarks? (Mark Twain, maybe?)

It might be Mark Twain or O.Henry. It discusses the shortcomings of that era's novels and short stories. Specifically, it parodies authors' remarks qualifying dialogue. The author of the essay claims ...
13
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1answer
548 views

Short story about Gentlemen being told a tale by a young woman

Trying to find the title of an old short story I read roughly 5 years ago. If memory serves, The protagonist was a man in his late 20s to early 30s and the story takes place in Europe shortly before ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

A girl, told that it's wonderful to live in Wales, goes off to live in a whale

This story came to me earlier today and now it's nagging at the edge of my brain. It was a short, somewhat silly, story, part of a collection that I read somewhere in the early 90s. I read it in the ...
13
votes
1answer
357 views

Short story in Russian about time travel and changing the history of WW2

I remember when I was child (probably about 40 years ago), I read some story in a Russian book (I think original was Russian, not translated). Story is the following: a man read some documentary book ...
13
votes
2answers
614 views

What inspired the writing of Sredni Vashtar?

Of the many short stories by Saki, I found Sredni Vashtar to be one of the darkest. While many of his stories are morbid, Sredni Vashtar has a young boy praying for the death of his guardian to ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

What's the point of the hen in Juan Rulfo's “They Gave Us the Land”?

The short story "Nos han dado la tierra" ("They Gave Us the Land") is a dismal portrayal of the Mexican government's land reform in the mid-20th century. A group of men are given ...
12
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4answers
3k views

What does it mean for a person to be “up” themselves?

I've just come across the short story "Do You Love Me?" by Peter Carey via a story-ID over at SFF. The basic premise of the story is that when something isn't loved, it disappears. Upon reading ...
12
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1answer
2k views

Which German book was Poe referring to?

The opening line of Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Man of the Crowd" is as follows. It was well said of a certain German book that "er lasst sich nicht lesen"- it does not permit itself to be ...
12
votes
2answers
157 views

Why does the former nurse create with metal?

In Kay Chronister's short story "The Fifth Gable," the women who live in the four-gabled house are described in an interlude. Before they had been women who lived in the four-gabled house, they ...
12
votes
1answer
392 views

How did Madeline Usher survive without food or water?

In The Fall of the House of Usher, Madeline Usher is put in the vault for a week, without food or water, in a coffin. This is in addition to the fact that she had been sick, and so wasn't at her ...
11
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2answers
1k views

What is “the poem” that the spider refers to in Philip Dick's short story “Expendable”?

In the short story "Expendable" by Philip K. Dick, the protagonist is a man who can communicate with spiders. At one point, after fighting off a home invasion by an army of ants, the ...
11
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3answers
4k views

Why does “it always turn out to be the King of Sweden”

In Reginald at the Theatre, Saki writes: [Reginald]: “There are certain fixed rules that one observes for one’s own comfort. For instance, never be flippantly rude to any inoffensive grey-bearded ...
11
votes
1answer
228 views

Short Horror Story in which protagonist is a monstrous freak in hiding?

I read this in a horror anthology, and thought it was called "I, Monster" but could find nothing through Google on this. Also thought it was an R Chetywnd Hays story, but again it seems invisible now. ...
11
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1answer
1k views

Looking for an old O. Henry story about a wealthy young man trying to woo a “genteel poor” young lady in New York City

I'm trying to pin down a certain short story by O. Henry. I remember the plot quite well, but not the title, nor which book collection of O. Henry's stories I first encountered it within. And let's ...
11
votes
1answer
6k views

Meaning of “How can one admire a girl…so young she doesn't know how to bite her fingers”

In a book of short stories by Maasthi Venkatesa Iyengar, translated from Kannada to English, there is a story set in colonial India in which two male characters are discussing marriage. One character ...
11
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2answers
87 views

What word did Updike have in mind here?

In the first story "Rich In Russia" in Bech: A Book, John Updike writes: (the mailbox, students should know, where his pitifully nibbled checks arrive has been well scarred by floating urban ...
11
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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 ...
11
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1answer
1k views

Do clergymen usually use spades?

In "The Quick One" in The Scandal of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton, the author was describing two strange men entered a hotel with beach, saying: Two quaintly assorted figures did, ...
11
votes
1answer
113 views

What do “Sedgemoor trade-mark” and “white-sleeve badge” mean?

Can somebody please explain this expression from a Mark Twain story, A Double Barrelled Detective Story: 'Sedgemoor trade-mark, white sleeve badge'? Here is the context: Among other things he said ...
11
votes
1answer
846 views

In de Maupassant's Two Friends, why does the colonel allow the two men to go into a warzone?

In Two Friends by Guy de Maupassant, the two men wish to go fishing in a warzone and are allowed to do so by the colonel who controls the checkpoint between the safety of Paris and the warzone outside ...
11
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2answers
4k views

In The Bet, why does the lawyer willingly stay fifteen years instead of five years for no extra reward?

In The Bet by Anton Chekhov, the lawyer voluntarily accepts to stay in prison for 15 years, instead of the original agreed upon 5 years. Here's the relevant passage: "The death sentence and the ...
10
votes
2answers
745 views

Is Narayan really quoting a traditional proverb, and from which Indian language/culture?

In the story "Fellow-Feeling" from R. K. Narayan's short story collection Malgudi Days (which I've been reading online), a proverb is mentioned in passing: Rajam Iyer leaned back in his seat, ...
10
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1answer
1k views

Why does Modesta Gómez demand payment from the indigenous girl?

In Rosario Castellanos's short story "Modesta Gómez," we see how a girl named Modesta with bright dreams for the future has them destroyed first by a wealthy family and then by her working-...
10
votes
1answer
166 views

What does “vamos the ranch” mean in this Mark Twain short story?

What does this sentence from "Double Barrelled Detective Story" by Mark Twain mean? "If I was running this shop I'd make him say something, some time or other, or vamos the ranch."...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

What does the “crimson hexagon” represent in “The Library of Babel”?

In The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges, the speaker says, They were urged on by the delirium of trying to reach the books in the Crimson Hexagon: books whose format is smaller than usual, all-...
10
votes
1answer
2k views

Short horror story I read two years ago about a Jack-in-the-box

About two years ago I read a short story about a Jack-in-the-box that is unused. I believe that he was at the bottom of the toy box and where he came from was unknown. In the house were a bunch of ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

Story about a man who wins three bets with the devil

I read a story in my reading book in third or fourth grade about a man who got tricked into agreeing to three bets with the devil because the man was a great gambler. The man won all three bets and in ...
10
votes
1answer
137 views

Had people related the work of Gogol before “The Nose”?

In The Nose, an opera by Demitri Shostakovich, Shostakovich combines many of Nikolai Gogol's stories, including The Nose, for which the opera is named, into a single story. Had previous critics or ...
10
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0answers
647 views

A story in which a young girl saves a poor boy from a factory owner and meets that boy decades later

Yesterday, I was reading a 5th grader's comprehension book. It had multiple excerpts from good (if not well-known) novels. One of them particularly stood out to me. It was about a woman who lived in ...
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 - ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

Searching for a sci-fi short story: three robots sent as ambassadors to prevent an interplanetary war

I remember reading a short story about three robots sent as ambassadors to (I think) Mars. It was an attempt by Earth to prevent a Martian invasion or war. The robots arrived in a spaceship designed ...
9
votes
3answers
10k views

Is there a central theme in I, Robot?

In the book I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, the author wrote several short stories, all usually revolving about robots of different types. It's possible to interpret the short stories with many different ...
9
votes
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 ...
9
votes
1answer
778 views

Identification of a short story about a short irrefutable self-evident proof that God exists that is kept secret

I am trying to find a short story (about 20 - 30 pages long) I read a couple of years ago. Here is what I recall: The central idea is that a [catholic] priest creates (and writes) a very short (about ...
9
votes
1answer
665 views

Short story where spectators at a sports match shine a mirror at the referee and burn him

I read a short story long ago. I can't remember the details but I would like to reread it. What's it's title? The story is a science fiction story concerning some sports match. A referee makes a bad ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the point hidden behind Kahlil Gibran's poem “The Three Ants”?

I read this story from Kahlil Gibran's The Madman: His Parables and Poems, but for some reason, I can't get to the point of understanding of the wisdom behind it: Three ants met on the nose of a man ...
9
votes
1answer
113 views

Looking for an O.Henry story where a young man from the country working in the city marries a socialite and then goes for a visit to his home

The young man in the question takes his bride to his home in the countryside to meet his family. The author describes the following scene in exquisite detail:- It's night and the entire family is ...
9
votes
2answers
6k views

The woods as a symbol in Young Goodman Brown

In the short story "Young Goodman Brown" by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the main character spends a great deal of the story traveling through a "dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest"...
9
votes
1answer
220 views

Short story about a scientist who (half jokingly) presented the theory that humans evolved from pigs, instead of apes

This was a short story from the 60's-70's. The story was part of an anthology, perhaps from one of the magazines at the time (since it wasn't award winning material). A scientist (or doctor) at a ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

What does the rose represent in “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner?

In A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner, Faulkner never mentions rose as a noun, only as a past tense verb throughout the work. However, its position as one of two primary words within the title, ...
9
votes
1answer
195 views

Short story that poked fun at certain authority figures (presidents or prime ministers) via implications of incompetence

I would like to identify a comedic book that was recommended​ to me some time ago. I don't remember much, but here is a brief description: The title may have contained a person's name... If memory ...
9
votes
1answer
517 views

What is the relevance of the title of Nalo Hopkinson's “A Raggy Dog, a Shaggy Dog”?

I've just read Nalo Hopkinson's short story "A Raggy Dog, a Shaggy Dog" (available for free online from Apex Magazine). It's an odd, quirky tale about an orchid-loving lady who's constantly setting ...

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