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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17 votes
2 answers
817 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 ...
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15 votes
1 answer
473 views

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

I remember when I was a child (probably about 40 years ago), I read some story in a Russian book (I think its original language was Russian). The story is as follows: a man read some documentary book ...
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17 votes
1 answer
2k 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 ...
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11 votes
2 answers
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 ...
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12 votes
2 answers
171 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 ...
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  • 5,716
5 votes
0 answers
3k views

How does the short story "Big World" from The Turning by Tim Winton explore aspects of Australian Identity?

The Turning by Tim Winton is a collection of short stories about turnings (obviously) at crucial times in people's lives. I've been asked to read and annotate the first short story in the series – “...
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8 votes
2 answers
2k views

What was "Rip Van Winkle" based on?

I was recently surprised to discover that the story of Rip Van Winkle is credited to the US author Washington Irving, who published it in 1819. I'd always vaguely imagined it to be a Brothers Grimm ...
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32 votes
1 answer
4k views

What does Mark Twain mean by "cheers and a tiger"?

I know about the big stripey cat, but what is "a tiger" in this context: ...finishing up with cheers and a tiger for "Hadleyburg purity and our eighteen immortal representatives of it.&...
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13 votes
1 answer
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 ...
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  • 8,242
5 votes
0 answers
71 views

What is the significance of the black void in "The Dancer on the Stairs"?

Sarah Tolmie's novelette The Dancer on the Stairs is a kind of portal fantasy, with the protagonist whisked away from our world into a strange fantastical one -- except the place she is whisked to is ...
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  • 3,000
6 votes
0 answers
395 views

Is there any evidence that Theremon 762's name was based on a theremin?

In Isaac Asimov's novel and short story (short story later expanded) Nightfall, there's a character named "Theremon 762". The whole novel is about darkness and innate fear, and a theremin, a type ...
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9 votes
2 answers
7k 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"...
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7 votes
2 answers
1k views

What does Jorge Luis Borges mean by the library being infinite in "The Library of Babel"?

In The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges, the speaker tells us about the library with the following specification, The distribution of the galleries is invariable. Twenty shelves, five long ...
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-3 votes
2 answers
481 views

How do people eat in "The Library of Babel"?

In The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges, we learn that there are hallways in between rooms, which have bathroom and sleeping facilities when the speaker says, To the left and right of the ...
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9 votes
2 answers
1k views

How do real-world languages exist in "The Library of Babel"?

In The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges, the narrator tells us: He showed his find to a wandering decoder who told him the lines were written in Portuguese; others said they were Yiddish. ...
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4 votes
1 answer
320 views

What is the significance/symbolism of the Cyclical book being cyclical in "The Library of Babel"?

In The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges, the speaker describes the cyclical book as (The mystics claim that their ecstasy reveals to them a circular chamber containing a great circular book, ...
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7 votes
1 answer
241 views

Are hexagons directly connected to each other?

In The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges, the speaker describes hallways in between the hexagonal rooms as, One of the free sides leads to a narrow hallway which opens onto another gallery, ...
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8 votes
1 answer
2k views

What is the significance/symbolism of the hexagon in "The Library of Babel"?

In The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges, the speaker describes the Library, as the universe, as The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite ...
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  • 5,895
3 votes
1 answer
193 views

Are all books the same length in "The Library of Babel"?

In The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges, the reader learns: There are five shelves for each of the hexagon's walls; each shelf contains thirty-five books of uniform format; each book is of ...
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  • 5,895
4 votes
1 answer
269 views

What was the origin of Emily Grierson's hereditary obligation upon the town?

In A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner, Emily Grierson, the main character of the work says, I have no taxes in Jefferson. Colonel Sartoris explained it to me. Perhaps one of you can gain access ...
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11 votes
1 answer
2k 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-...
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22 votes
0 answers
474 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 ...
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  • 5,684
7 votes
1 answer
454 views

In "The Library of Babel" is the "cyclical book" really God?

In the second paragraph of The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges, the narrator says, This cyclical book is god. However, later in the story he says, On some shelf in some hexagon (men ...
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9 votes
1 answer
2k 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, ...
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11 votes
4 answers
14k 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 ...
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  • 1,713
11 votes
1 answer
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-...
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9 votes
1 answer
417 views

Identify non-Doylian Holmes short story: Watson outstrips Sherlock and Mycroft

About ten years ago, I read an old short story about Sherlock Holmes, which was not one of the 'canon' Doyle stories. I think it may have been written by one of the well-known later detective fiction ...
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10 votes
1 answer
142 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 ...
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14 votes
1 answer
3k 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 ...
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14 votes
2 answers
678 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 ...
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31 votes
1 answer
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 ...
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18 votes
1 answer
14k 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 ...
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  • 183
7 votes
1 answer
227 views

Do any of J. D. Salinger's short stories share locations or characters?

J. D. Salinger is a well-known 20th century author, most notably of Catcher in the Rye. He was fairly prolific, writing many stories. Do any of these stories share the same universe?
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12 votes
2 answers
5k 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 ...
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  • 4,277
11 votes
1 answer
1k 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 ...
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  • 4,277
14 votes
1 answer
547 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 ...
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