Short Stories

Chopin, Kate. The Story of an Hour. Perfection Learning, 2001.

This story documents the complicated reaction of Louise Mallard upon learning of her husband’s death. Set in the late nineteenth century, this story takes place in the Mallard residence. The historical setting of this story is significant to the theme regarding the oppressive status of married women. The tone of “The Story of an Hour” is ironic, people assumed that Mrs. Mallard would be sad after the passing of her husband, however, the ending of this story proved that instead she felt free. Louise Mallard shows a lot of character development when it comes to her emotions and how she feels; pathos is evident here. “She sat with her head thrown back upon the cushion of the chair, quite motionless, except when a sob came up into her throat and shook her, as a child who has cried itself to sleep continues to sob in its dreams.” Mrs. Mallard’s growing awareness of the freedom she will have without Brently Mallard, her husband, lurks until the very end of the story. A great turmoil fills Mrs.Mallard as she seems glad that her husband has died, but she still thinks of Brently’s “kind, tender hands”. 


Chopin, Kate. Desiree’s Baby . Perfection Learning, 2001.

In “Desiree’s Baby” Chopin explores southern racism and the widespread of hatred when it comes to the mixture of races. Set before the Civil War, this story is about a baby and a racial crisis between a husband and a wife. Armand is a wealthy Louisiana plantation owner, later when he’s burning Desiree’s things, he finds his mother’s letter, in which she thanks God for keeping her secret that Armand is part black. At times, the tone is ominous, hinting at the troubles that lie ahead. The author uses logos to appeal to the audience with reason, during the time of the civil war, America was fighting to abolish slavery. It makes sense that racism and xenophobia was still evident during this time, so much so that Armand’s biggest disgrace would be the showing of his black ancestry through his child. “Moreover he no longer loved her because of the unconscious injury she had brought upon his home and his name.” As a wealthy plantation owner, Armand feels the need to keep his appearance, he can’t bear to look at his own child but he isn’t aware of who’s at fault.


Henry, O. “The Skylight Room.” Short Stories and Classic Literature,

Hope is important. It is the thing that allows us to feel excitement and joy. It is the thing that allows us to move beyond the present moment. A young woman in the short story, ”The Skylight Room” by O. Henry, uses hope to light up the darkness in her life. This story can be described as a modern day fairy tale, set in the heart of the authors favorite city, New York. This heartwarming tale describes the dream come true romance of Miss Leeson, a poor working girl in New York that looks towards the light in darkness. The author uses epithets to describe the characters, for example, “…gave her the incredulous, pitying, sneering, icy stare…”, the epithets are used here to intensify the way she looked at the heroine. The author uses words like “stare” instead of “look”, this shows the emotional coloring; in other words, pathos. Another example of appealing to emotions is when the author says, “…full of tender, whimsical fancies…” this is used to show us the girl’s inner world brighter. 


Jacobs, W. W. “The Monkey’s Paw.” Short Stories and Classic Literature,

“The Monkey’s Paw” is a story about a mystical charm, a monkey’s paw that is brought into the home of the White family by Sergeant Major Morris, who has served in India.  The monkey’s paw has the ability to grant 3 wishes to 3 people. This story vividly illustrates the old saying of, “Be careful what you wish for.” It presents Mr. White, an ordinary person with a magical item and allows his own character traits (the desire to be free of debt) to destroy him. The monkey’s paw indeed grants his wishes, but they were never granted in the way he envisioned. Somewhere in England, this story takes place in the 1900’s, mainly inside and around the White family home. The author shows sympathy, with a hint of mischief towards his characters and the subject at play. Logos is used to appeal to the majority of the audience, this story vividly illustrates the old saying of, “Be careful what you wish for”, when Mr. White wishes what he does, he doesn’t think it through and this ultimately leads to more harm being done. ‘“with a look of alarm on his face, caught him by the arm. “If you must wish,” he said gruffly, “wish for something sensible.”’. The sergeant-major in a way tried to warn Mr.White by telling him to be smart and reasonable with what he’d wish for.


Maupassant, Guy de. The Necklace and Other Tales. Random House USA Inc, 2004.

In the short story “The Necklace” by Guy De Maupassant, it is evident that one of the central themes is appearance vs. reality. For Mathilde, one of the main characters, her necklace symbolizes wealth, beauty and eventually, shame as she goes into debt trying to replace the lost necklace. The irony in this story is that the necklace was artificial. This story takes place in Paris, France, the author uses currency in the form of francs and uses the titles monsieur and madame. The author seems detached from the characters but understanding of their situations. The tone in this story is the author’s attitude towards his subject. The use of logos is evident in this story as Maupassant tries to explain the power in being grateful, Mathilde had lived years in misery due to her wanting to live a more materialistic life. The author is trying to show the audience that we must be cautious of becoming too greedy otherwise, we may end up in a situation similar to Mathilde’s.


Poe, Edgar Allan. The Black Cat. Applewood Books, 2016.

In the short story “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allen Poe, love and hate are the two key themes. The narrator is very fond of his pets and wife until he grows irritable of them leading him to kill his black cat. Eventually, he finds another black cat which he also tried to kill but, instead he accidentally killed his wife. The narrator tries to hide the truth by walling up his wife’s body but, the voice of the black cat (trapped in the wall) helps bring him to justice. The event in this tale takes place at the narrator’s home, however, the recounting of these events takes place on a single day in the narrator’s prison cell. At times, this story is unwittingly ironic and irrelevant, at others, it is dark and mocking; the tone is variable. The use of pathos is evident all throughout the story, “with these I spent most of my time, and never was so happy when it came to feeding or caressing them” (Poe, 12). The narrator is a textbook definition of a psychopath, he offers insight on what the inner workings of a psychopath are. There are many emotions at play here especially when you take into account that the narrator writes his story before being hung for the murder of his wife.  


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