Showing 131 - 140 of 456 annotations in the genre "Short Story"

Absence of Mercy

Stone, Robert

Last Updated: Aug-01-2006
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Mackay’s story begins in the 1940s when, at age 5, he was sent to a "boarding school" run by the Catholic order of the Pauline Brothers. Mackay’s mother had herself been institutionalized for paranoid schizophrenia and his father was not in the picture. In the school Mackay was exposed to pervasive violence: "intramural" violence wherein the stronger children taunted and beat up the weaker ones; classroom violence in which the instructors slapped or beat with a razor strop those boys they deemed to be errant in any respect; organized boxing matches; and, most feared, "statutory evening punishment" where students had been selected out by a Brother to be humiliated and beaten after the evening meal and prayers. The latter violence was characterized by "the absence of mercy" and a sadistic ritualism that induced "sick-making terror" in its victims.

We follow Mackay through additional episodes of violence as he progresses through delinquent adolescence--now living in a welfare hotel with his mother--through a stint in the Navy, marriage and fatherhood, and, finally, to an episode in the New York City subway that is the crisis point of the story. In the Navy he is once again victimized by a drill instructor who humiliates Mackay into losing the "instinctive cringe" he had developed during his years at the institution.

Mackay reads in the newspaper that an old buddy--"they had suffered shame and pain together that could never be explained to anyone (38)"--has been murdered in the subway while coming to a woman’s aid. Mackay is terribly troubled by this incident, not only because of the earlier close relationship, but also because he finds himself intrigued by the story. A year later, Mackay is in a similar situation--in his presence, a well dressed but deranged man is threatening a woman in a subway station.

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About Love

Chekhov, Anton

Last Updated: Jun-22-2006
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

In "About Love," two friends who were caught in a storm while out walking have sought shelter in a third friend's country home. They stayed the night and at lunch the next day their host, Alehin, tells them a story about his lost love. It seems that when he was young, he worked closely with Luganovitch, the vice-president of the circuit court, and became close friends with Luganovitch and his beautiful wife Anna Alexyevna.

Over the years, Alehin and Anna spent a great deal of time together; he fell passionately in love with her and felt confident that she reciprocated his feelings. Yet, they never acted on their passion. At last, after many years, when Anna was setting out on the train to join her husband, who had been transferred to a distant province, Alehin took her into his arms and proclaimed his love. They collapsed in tears. But alas, the train left: "I kissed her for the last time, pressed her hand, and parted forever."

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The Abortion

Walker, Alice

Last Updated: Jun-15-2006
Annotated by:
Nixon, Lois LaCivita

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

The story does concern an abortion, but, more so, the failure of the protagonist’s husband to participate in essential discussions relating to their marriage. Imani, a well-educated black woman, and her husband, Clarence, have a two-year old child and a seemingly good life. The marriage, however, is on uneasy ground because Clarence’s focus has shifted from family to job. Busy as a key advisor to the mayor, he has not thought about this, but Imani, now pregnant, has had time to reach this disturbing conclusion. She decides that unless Clarence will fight to save this child, she will abort the pregnancy. When he fulfills her expectations, quickly acquiescing to her termination plans, Imani recognizes that the partnership is over.

For Imani, abortion is no small matter nor is it new. While still in college, she had undergone a brutal experience with severe hemorrhaging. This time it is an "assembly line" event with no complications, but, again, she is alone. Clarence, oblivious to her smoldering rage about his complacency, subordinates her needs to those associated with his job.

The abortion concretizes the distance between them: "She had known the moment she left the marriage, the exact second. But apparently that moment had left no perceptable mark." Twice Imani had been scarred by abortion, and Clarence, oblivious to these marks, remained in uncomprehending disbelief as the marriage deteriorated and, then, dissolved.

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Our Menstruation

Zelman, Cynthia

Last Updated: May-17-2006
Annotated by:
Wear, Delese

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This is the story of Vicky, a metaphorical figure, who was both outsider and larger-than-life, and who was first on her junior high school softball team to start her period. She does so in the midst of a game, with boys and girls looking on, bases loaded, Vicky herself at bat. When she lifts her left leg during a swing, a large patch, a "sea of red" is visible in her crotch. Made aware of what has happened by the urgent cries of some of her girlfriends, Vicky looks down, shrugs, and continues her run around the bases: a home run. Vicky, big as an earthquake, comes to symbolize womanhood for these girls, moving them to some slightly higher plateau of understanding about being women, and being together.

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Snapshots of Grace

Henderson-Holmes, Safiya

Last Updated: May-17-2006
Annotated by:
Wear, Delese

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This story presents a denial of breast cancer so deep that it may cost a woman her life. Arranged by discrete sections labeled "photographs," the story is a chronology of Grace from age five to her present middle age. The story ends after her surgery, and readers are left with the insight that for Grace--and many other women--breasts were more than sexual appendages that warranted admiration from others, visual affirmation of her womanness, or sexual enticements. They were her body, her self, and removal of her breast was not simply removal of a peripheral part.

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Floating Bridge

Munro, Alice

Last Updated: May-17-2006
Annotated by:
Duffin, Jacalyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This story takes place on a drive home to the country from a medical appointment in town. Jinny has cancer and is on chemotherapy; she feels unwell and wears an uncomfortable hat because she has lost her hair. Her visit to the doctor ends with disconcerting news, but her husband, Neal, seems uninterested. In a supposed effort to be cheerful, he plays up to Helen, the young woman whom they are taking home to help while Jinny is ill. She senses that Neal will have a life and loves beyond her existence.

In the van, Neal becomes obsessed with teasing Helen about a forgotten pair of shoes; over her objections, he insists on picking them up from friends. Neither the girl nor Jinny are eager to visit this place, which turns out to be a bleak trailer-home surrounded by unfriendly dogs and occupied by a garrulous, obese couple that invite them to visit. Jinny just wants to go home and stays in the van, but Neal ignores her wishes and goes inside for a beer, which extends into a meal.

The teenage son, Ricky, returns to find Jinny waiting. More sympathetic than anyone else has been that day, he offers to drive her home. She surprises herself by leaving with Ricky at the wheel of Neal's van and by not caring what the others might think. He chooses a back-road that passes over a floating bridge. They stop. The dusk turns to dark and the stars emerge over dark water; exquisite beauty in a simple spot.

Jinny suddenly realizes that she has been without her hat all the while. The lad then kisses the much older woman. He admits it is the first time he has kissed a married woman; she tells him it will not likely be the last, and, soberly, he agrees. The tiny adventure of betrayal--an innocent form of sexual retaliation against her husband--brings a sense of hilarity, self-worth, and well being "for the time given."

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The Linden Tree

Leffland, Ella

Last Updated: May-12-2006
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

George, a strong introverted African-American man and Guilio, a delicate and flighty Italian man, have been lovers for many decades. Guilio's deteriorating heart condition strains their relationship. Guilio is haunted by childhood death fantasies and George becomes frustrated trying to help him to deal with his illness and his fears. In the end, however, George is comforted by Guilio, who has sensed his pain and grief over being the surviving partner.

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Change

Massad, Stewart

Last Updated: May-08-2006

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

The narrator is an aging, male gynecologist who works in a small North Carolina town. The National Health Service sends a young doctor, Rachel, to work in the clinic. From Boston, she is unused to the town's racial politics. She learns slowly to understand the motivations and concerns of her patients. As she campaigns for condom distribution, she ends up insulting the white men who run the town by calling them racists.

The narrator protests that they have power in the town only because no blacks ever run for office and that their policies are meant to distribute wealth evenly. He encourages Rachel to be more gentle and womanly. She will get her way more easily if she smiles. But Rachel eventually turns her back on the narrator, too, when in order to get a violent black man out of the clinic's lobby he calls the man "boy" and threatens to call the police. Rachel moves in with a black man. The town has revenge when a hit and run driver kills her lover and Rachel is hounded out of town.

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Poison

Dahl, Roald

Last Updated: May-02-2006
Annotated by:
Miksanek, Tony

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Harry Pope is afraid to move even a muscle. While lying in bed and reading a book, he notices a krait--Bungarus caeruleus, a deadly Asian snake--slithering on top of his pajamas. When his companion, Timber, arrives at the bungalow around midnight, Harry is still petrified with fright. Convinced the snake is asleep on his stomach beneath the bed sheet, Harry has been lying motionless for hours.

Timber telephones Dr. Ganderbai for help and despite the late hour, the Indian physician promptly makes a house call. He administers an injection of anti-venom just in case the snake bites Harry. Next, Dr. Ganderbai carefully infuses chloroform underneath the bed sheet in an attempt to anesthetize the krait. Timber and the doctor then remove the sheet but no snake is found. Dr. Ganderbai questions the validity of Harry's account and wonders if the man was merely dreaming. Harry becomes enraged and spews insults including racial slurs. The doctor remains composed and exits quietly, remarking only that Harry could use a vacation.

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An Old Man

Maupassant, Guy de

Last Updated: Apr-24-2006
Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Monsieur Daron, an eighty-six-year-old-man, comes to live at the new spa in Rondelis. He believes himself to be in excellent health, as a result of "careful living." He has always had "an obsessive fear of death," and he avoids all pleasure because it may be dangerous.

In order to measure and monitor his own condition, M. Daron arranges for the doctor in charge of the springs to visit him once a week with information on the health of everyone else in the surrounding area who is over the age of eighty. When he hears that someone has died, he quickly identifies a cause that might have been avoided; the man who died of pleurisy should not have gone out in the cold, and the one who died of dysentery must have eaten the wrong food.

Eventually, though, one old man dies for no apparent reason. The doctor can report no lesion, no disease: "He died because he died, that's all." M. Daron is horrified and asks the man's age. Eighty-nine. He laughs in relief, saying, "whatever it was, it wasn't old age . . . ."

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