One of my favorite parts of high school was my English classes. I was introduced to so many fantastic books and stories that I still can’t shake, nor do I want to. I am fully aware that I sound like a total square. But in regards to a great story, when you know you know.
In class we’d break them down, analyze them, look for symbolism that probably wasn’t there (my favorite part), and talk it out with the teacher. We did this more times than I can count in the four years of my high school career, however a select few have remained in my mind. I can’t be alone in this, so here’s eight of my favorite short stories and, just maybe, they’re yours too.
1. “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin
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A classic with a great twist, Kate Chopin was known for that. A Mrs. Mallard receives some terrible news of her husband’s passing. We know of her health history, but as the story continues her true emotions begin to surprise us. It’s at the end of this story that we should expect the unexpected.
2. “Araby” by James Joyce
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This one hits me right in the chest whenever I read it. Set in the city of Dublin, Ireland, a young boy describes the simple ways of the neighborhood where he lives. The boys on the street are at the cusp of boyhood and while they’re childlike they take interest in the adults. Our narrator finds himself at a sexual awakening a friend’s sister, he tries his hardest for a pure innocent love, but things don’t always work out as imagined.
3. “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway
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One of Hemingway’s works that I love best, I could still spend hours trying to break down each line. The dialogue is simple yet effective. A couple, who we don’t get much information on, sits at a train station in Madrid stopping for a drink. They have a discussion about an operation that will effect them both. They come across as very human and we question their future. You just have to read between the lines to really understand their story.
4. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
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You may go mad for this, just hopefully not literally, because Gilman’s work is exactly about that. Our narrator, whose name we never find out, is ordered on bed rest after having a child. She is cared for and monitored closely, but it comes too close to her breaking point.
5. “Desiree’s Baby” by Kate Chopin
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Plot twists in the old south make up the heart of this gripping piece. A baby girl adopted by a wealthy family lives a lush life on a plantation and is soon courted and married off to the son of another respected family. However, when they have a child together, fidelity is questioned on her part. When, in reality, it should be race. An all-time favorite of mine.
6. “The Open Window” by Saki
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An anxious Mr. Nuttel takes refuge in the country due to his doctors orders to ease his anxiety and neurosis. However, the first person he meets is the young mischievous niece of his host, Mrs. Sappleton. This story is humorous in that children have a wild imagination. You’ll be amused in the end when Mr. Nuttel can’t even trust his own eyes.
7. “Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl
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Creepy, crazy, and quite clever. Dahl does a fantastic job with an older married couple whose husband, we can assume, just asked for a divorce. His wife takes matters into her own hands and by the time you’re done reading there’s a hot meal and a grisly murder.
8. “A&P” by John Updike
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Updike’s story makes us feel for the narrator whose just a nineteen-year-old kid trying to make ends meet and enjoy the summer. His usual shift at the supermarket is shaken up when three girls in their bathing suits walk in. We learn that sometimes risking it all and taking a chance may not be your best bet.
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