Showing 361 - 370 of 456 annotations in the genre "Short Story"

Casualty

Wolff, Tobias

Last Updated: Aug-25-1998
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

B.D. and Ryan are completing their tour of duty in Vietnam. They are bonded to each other--"some kind of cultish remnant"--because they are the only men from the original unit who have not returned home. Unexpectedly, a new lieutenant takes command. He views the unit as undisciplined; he lacks patience and a sense of humor.

Ryan's reaction is sarcastic mimicry, which the lieutenant overhears. When challenged, Ryan responds with a scurrilous comment. This initiates a menacing, deadly interaction between them. B.D. watches this interaction helplessly. He tries to persuade Ryan: "All you have to do . . . is keep quiet." (22) But Ryan can't help himself; his mission is to make the lieutenant aware of "what an asshole he is." (21)

B.D. feels increasingly desperate, fantasizing that he will blow the lieutenant up with a grenade. When he tries to enlist help from the former unit head the latter suggests that B.D. put himself in the line of fire in place of Ryan. B.D. realizes that officers stick together, and, even worse, he feels "weak, corrupt, and afraid." (30) Soon thereafter, Ryan is killed during a routine mission.

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The Veteran

Massad, Stewart

Last Updated: Jul-03-1998

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This is the narrative of an old doctor. Once greatly admired, he is now ridiculed by young doctors who find his techniques outdated and his lectures boring. His specialty is microbiology; his lab works on AIDS. His daughter asks him to support a group demanding that researchers release without so much delay the preventive drugs they are developing for AIDS patients. The doctor refuses on the grounds that the drugs need more testing. Later he finds out that his son is dying of AIDS.

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Batorsag and Szerelem

Canin, Ethan

Last Updated: Jul-03-1998
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

The narrator, William, is the younger brother of Clive, an enigmatic high school "hippie" who also is a mathematical genius. Most of the story deals with their relationship within a peace activist family living in an affluent Cleveland suburb in the early 1970’s. Two of Clive’s friends, Sandra (presumably his lover) and Elliot, figure prominently in the story. In fact, it is from a secret language which Clive and Elliot share that the title is derived. They also share a sexual relationship and are "discovered" by Clive’s father. This event sends this affable story into a hyperspeed tragic ending, placing William fifteen years later at the bedside of his brother who is dying from complications of AIDS.

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Invisible Target

Harvor, Elisabeth

Last Updated: Jul-03-1998
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Linda Bishop tells the story of her early years as a nursing student. She soon realizes that she doesn't actually want to be a nurse, but she continues in training, "waiting for some unspeakable horror that I could hold up to the light to prove to myself that the hospital was a truly monstrous place."

While Linda is quiet and sexually inexperienced, her first roommate, Holly Bostwick (Boss), is reputed to have a sensational sexual history and to be afflicted with syphilis. When Linda brings Holly home for Thanksgiving, Linda's mother is impressed with her daughter's new friend, a young woman much more confident and articulate than ambivalent Linda.

Somewhat later, after Boss becomes engaged to a gas station owner, Linda returns by train from visiting her parents. She is determined to make a final decision. She lists what she hates about the hospital and what she likes about it. Will she leave or will she stay?

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A Conversation with My Father

Paley, Grace

Last Updated: Jun-25-1998
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This is a story about storytelling. The narrator--a writer--and her aged, ill father are discussing the narrator's style of story writing. The father wants her to write a story that is simple, "Just recognizable people and then write down what happened to them next." The writer doesn't like telling stories that way because "it takes all hope away. Everyone, real or invented, deserves the open destiny of life."

Because she wants to please her father, the writer narrates a one-paragraph tale about a woman and her teenage son, a drug addict. But this is not what the father had in mind at all. "You misunderstood me on purpose . . . You left everything out." The father asks the writer questions, attempting to fill in details of the story that he believes are important. The writer agrees to tell the story again.

The second version is longer, complicated, unlikely, and, like the first version, has an unhappy conclusion, ending, "The End." The father is discouraged and saddened by this version. How could his daughter, the writer, leave the mother in the story in such an abandoned state? As they discuss the ending the father becomes exasperated with his daughter's bantering: "Tragedy! . . . When will you look it in the face?"

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The Chief of Medicine

Brody, Howard

Last Updated: Mar-10-1998
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A woman medical student finds herself in a hierarchical dilemma while rotating through her internal medicine clerkship. She is helping to take care of a middle-aged man who has been hospitalized for a diagnostic work-up. As a consequence of invasive procedures ordered by his physicians to determine the cause of his symptoms, the patient has suffered serious complications and is moribund. The doctors are evasive with the patient and his family, who beseech the medical student for an explanation. Even though she has been instructed by the physicians to refer all issues back to them, she follows her own convictions and tells the truth: "Your father is dying."

As a result of this "insubordination," she is called in to see the head of the department, a man of "legendary diagnostic skill" with a long tenure at the hospital. He says that he will have her dismissed, and launches into a long diatribe, making the case for a paternalistic medicine in which the patient needs to believe that the physician is omniscient and possesses quasi-magical healing powers. "Miracle, mystery, and authority," he says, are at the heart of what physicians can do for their patients and to undermine these is to do harm to the vast majority of the sick. Having made his point, he terminates the interview but reinstates the student, who, it is suggested, is so grateful (for his advice or for not being dismissed?) that she kisses him.

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Home

Chekhov, Anton

Last Updated: Feb-27-1998
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This is a short bittersweet story of a father's (eventually) successful efforts to teach his seven year old son about the "evils" of smoking. The father, a prosperous and recently widowed prosecutor, begins his "lesson" by first trying to explain the nature of property (his son had taken his tobacco); in the voice of "the nursery" he tries to compel his son not to smoke again.

Then, trying to recapture the teachable moment after this first attempt fails, the father reminds himself that the modern teacher must stand on logic in order to help the child form the necessary principles. Learning should be based neither on fear nor on desire for rewards he tells himself--but he fails again.

Finally the father realizes that he must enter his son's world in order for his son to understand him. This he does through an improvised story wherein a young prince "abandons" his aging father through an early death due to smoking. The connection is made and the young son swears to not smoke again. The father then reflects on the power of story in the lives not only of children, but of us all.

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Annotated by:
Squier, Harriet

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A woman who works at a rehabilitation center for the blind reflects on the deaths of the people around her, clients as well as patients. She recounts the reaction of the staff to the death of a well-loved employee of the center whose name the narrator doesn't recognize. As she assists the blind clients at the funeral home, she suddenly realizes she did know the dead woman, but never had known her name. The narrator reflects on how a sight-impaired friend of hers, Vange, approaches life with supreme attentiveness, and never misses any details. The colleague's funeral reminds the narrator that living means being more like Vange.

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Rab and His Friends

Brown, John

Last Updated: Jan-24-1998
Annotated by:
Duffin, Jacalyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

The narrator recalls a boyhood encounter with Rab, a majestic dog. Rab causes the lad to make friends with his master, James Noble, a simple horse-cart driver. Six years later, James brings his beautiful old wife, Ailie, to the hospital where the narrator is now a medical student. She has breast cancer and the surgeon tells her that it must be operated the following day. James and the dog are allowed to remain nearby.

Ailie endures the operation in brave silence, commanding silent respect from a lively group of students. James nurses her tenderly, but she develops a fever and dies a few days later. Shortly after her burial, he too falls ill and dies. Rab refuses to eat, becomes hostile, and is killed by the new driver.

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To Hell with Dying

Walker, Alice

Last Updated: Jan-16-1998
Annotated by:
Terry, James

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Mr. Sweet is a neighbor of the narrator, who is initially a little girl summoned with the rest of her siblings whenever Mr. Sweet is threatening to die. The narrator describes how she and her brothers loved Mr. Sweet, despite the fact that he was an indifferent cotton farmer, a frequent drunk, and an inveterate smoker. Somehow the faults of the old man, including his falling-down bouts of drunkenness and his slovenly personal appearance, are not impediments to the devotion he inspires or the affection for him on the part of the narrator and her brothers.

Each time the children are summoned, Mr. Sweet is reputed to be at death's door. "To hell with dying," the narrator's father would say. "These children want Mr. Sweet!" Then the youngsters would leap on the man in bed and begin their miraculous revival. By turns tickling and kissing Mr. Sweet, the neighbor kids manage to revive him time after time. The narrator comes to have faith in her unfailing ability to bring him back to life, and several times the children succeed when the local doctor had given up hope.

Nearly two decades pass, and the narrator is in graduate school when another summons comes. She flies back to the rural South and hastens to the bedside of the old man, now over ninety. But this time, after a brief return to consciousness, Mr. Sweet dies.

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