Showing 81 - 90 of 456 annotations in the genre "Short Story"

Indian Camp

Hemingway, Ernest

Last Updated: Nov-28-2006
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

From a fishing trip the local doctor is summoned to an Indian village to assist a woman in labor. With him are his young son and an older male relative. The physician assesses the situation in the closed, pungent hut and determines that his only option is section--with a pen knife and fishing leader as his instruments, and no anesthesia for the Indian woman. The doctor arrogantly, but only briefly, celebrates his success as a surgeon only to discover that the woman's husband, apparently unable to tolerate his wife's pain and the racism of the white visitors, has silently slit his own throat. The child, who has observed the entire proceedings asks, "Is dying hard, Daddy?"

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Annotated by:
Miksanek, Tony

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

The 25-year-old narrator returns to his hometown after a five-year absence. He accompanies his 14-year-old cousin to the hospital. The cousin's right ear is damaged, and his hearing is ruined. Although previous treatments have been unsuccessful, a new ear specialist is going to perform a procedure on the boy's ear.

The narrator recalls another trip he took to a hospital eight years earlier. At that time, he and a high school friend visited a girl who was having an operation on her rib. The girl had composed a poem based on a dream she had. She told the story to her two visitors and illustrated it by drawing a picture on a napkin. Her tale involved miniscule flies that crept into a woman's ear causing her to fall asleep. While she slept, the insects eventually devoured her flesh. A man attempted to awake (and save) her, but it was too late. The narrator remembers that his high school friend died not long afterwards.

The cousin's appointment with the ear doctor ends with a sack of medication and little likelihood that the day's treatment will restore his hearing. The narrator and his cousin eat in the hospital cafeteria. The boy asks the narrator to gaze inside his ears, and the narrator marvels at the structure and mystery of the human ear. He decides his cousin's ear appears normal. Soon, the narrator's mind once again drifts back to a summer eight years ago and memories of his lost friend.

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If I'm Spared

Simpson, Helen

Last Updated: Oct-03-2006
Annotated by:
Miksanek, Tony

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A foreign correspondent accustomed to global calamities now finds himself entangled in a personal disaster. Tom is a middle-aged man with a weakness for cigarettes and women but not much interest in his wife, Barbara, and their young daughter. Tom develops a nagging cough. Night sweats, bloody sputum, and weight loss soon follow. He visits multiple physicians. A chest X-ray demonstrates a suspicious "shadow." Even before further testing is performed, a distinguished pulmonary specialist tells Tom that the diagnosis is lung cancer.

Tom and his wife search the Internet and worry even more when they learn about the harsh side effects of treatment and the dismal prognosis of the disease. Although he has smoked cigarettes since he was a teenager, Tom suddenly has little trouble quitting. He develops a greater appreciation of his wife and fondness for his daughter. If only he could have another chance at life, he would mend his ways and become a new man. The results of Tom's additional tests reveal a different diagnosis - tuberculosis. Tom and Barbara are ecstatic that he can be cured with a combination of five different medications. With the threat of cancer eliminated, Tom resumes all his old habits: smoking cigarettes, ignoring his wife, and flirting with women.

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ICU

Lehane, Dennis

Last Updated: Sep-29-2006
Annotated by:
Miksanek, Tony

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Daniel has plenty of problems. He is already divorced. He loses his job. He is stalked by a mysterious group of well-dressed men (maybe federal agents) for an unknown reason. They follow him around in a blue Toyota SUV and show up at his ex-wife's house asking questions. On his way to an interview for an assistant manager's job at Dunkin' Donuts, Daniel drives through a medical district containing six hospitals. His mother died in one of these buildings. When he spots the blue SUV trailing him, he takes evasive action. After parking his car in a hospital lot, he wanders into the hallway outside the intensive care unit.

Eventually he settles into the ICU waiting room where he meets many family members of critically ill patients. Michael, a former Russian KGB agent whose elderly mother is a patient in the ICU, befriends him. Daniel remains in the medical complex for one month visiting the intensive care area of a different hospital each day. He sits with the relatives of ICU patients, and even though they are strangers, he listens to their tales of woe and empathizes with them.

Daniel becomes addicted to the humanity of the waiting room. Even when his car is finally towed from the parking lot, the threatening men in suits still wait for him outside the hospital. Daniel never learns the nature of his offense. Although he has nowhere to safely go, Daniel finds himself strangely comforted and at home in the ICU waiting room.

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Was It Heaven? Or Hell?

Twain, Mark

Last Updated: Sep-13-2006
Annotated by:
Ratzan, Richard M.

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Twain paints a picture of an all female family of four: Margaret Lester, widow; her 16 year old daughter, Helen; and Margaret’s extremely proper twin maiden aunts, Hannah and Hester Gray, aged 67. It is a household in which "a lie had no place. In it a lie was unthinkable. In it speech was restricted to absolute truth, iron-bound truth, implacable and uncompromising truth, let the resulting consequences be what they might." With this background, Twain sets up a perfect scenario of hide-bound morality only to turn it on its head, an iconoclastic trick for which he is deservedly well known.

The doctor caring for the mother and daughter, suffering from typhoid, cuts the aunts’ pietistic morality about lying to shreds, demonstrates the shallow logic and inconsistency of it and predicts they will lie in a greater fashion than they can imagine. True to form, Twain has the aunts go to great lengths to falsify the condition of the critically ill daughter to the mother to prevent the truth from worsening her condition. The title derives from the final lines of the story when an angel of the Lord comes to their house and delivers the judgment for all their lies, a judgment the reader is asked to guess: Was it Heaven? Or Hell?

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Told in the Drooling Ward

London, Jack

Last Updated: Sep-12-2006
Annotated by:
Moore, Pamela

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

The story is told by a man living in "the drooling ward," part of a California mental institution. The narrator has been in the ward over 25 years; he helps feed and care for the others. He calls himself a "feeb"--feeble minded--but believes himself to be better than the droolers and certainly better than the stuck-up "epilecs" who though they seem normal throw such terrible fits. He feels as if he could get released from the hospital at any time, but he would rather stay. He tells of the two times he left the hospital. The first time, he was adopted by a couple that ran a ranch. He was forced to do many chores and the man beat him. He snuck off and returned to the home. The second time, he ran away with two "epilecs," but they were hungry and afraid of the dark so returned.

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On Official Business

Chekhov, Anton

Last Updated: Sep-05-2006
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Starchenko, a country doctor, and Lyzhin, an acting coroner, travel through a snowstorm to reach the village of Syrna, where they are to hold an inquest regarding the death of Lesnitsky. Three days earlier, Lesnitsky had shot himself in the office of the village council.

When the two officials finally arrive after sundown, the witnesses have gone home for tea; only the talkative old constable remains. Starchenko and Lyzhin eventually proceed to the von Taunitz mansion for comfortable quarters and an evening of entertainment. The storm is so severe that the next day they remain at the mansion, rather than conducting the inquest.

On the third day, as they prepare to return to the village, where the witnesses have been waiting for them, they see the old constable standing in the snow. "Very restive them peasants are," he says. "Have pity on them, kind sirs."

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Old Mrs. Harris

Cather, Willa

Last Updated: Sep-05-2006
Annotated by:
Sirridge, Marjorie

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This work, originally entitled "Three Women," is a semi-autobiographical story of Willa Cather, her mother and grandmother, four younger children--all boys--the father, and a servant girl, who all lived together in a small midwestern town. The roles of the three women are beautifully described: the gentle grandmother who cared for and taught the children, her daughter, a displaced "southern belle" who was spoiled in many ways but wise and loving with her children, and her granddaughter, a teenager set upon her own needs and ambitions but dutiful toward her family.

Another part of the story is the relationship of this family to a well educated neighbor couple who "kept a tender watch over the comings and goings of the household." It was in their home that the granddaughter found a library she could use and encouragement for her studies. Eventually it was this couple who made it possible for her to attend college.

The gradual, unnoticed deterioration of the grandmother ended with her death. The response of the family to this event is well described. Also the empathic relationship between the grandmother and the servant girl is very poignant. Even the death of a family cat adds to the depth of the story in a metaphorical way.

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One of These Days

Garcia Marquez, Gabriel

Last Updated: Sep-05-2006
Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Aurelio Escovar is introduced as a poor dentist without a degree. He is busy polishing false teeth early one morning when the mayor arrives to see him. At first he refuses to see this would-be patient, until the mayor, who has been suffering severe toothache for five days and is desperate, threatens to shoot him. Eventually the dentist lets him in, examines him, and then removes the infected wisdom tooth, without anesthesia.

We realize that the dentist has deliberately made the mayor suffer all this time, and he gives the reason as he pulls out the tooth, saying "Now you’ll pay for our twenty dead men." When the mayor has recovered and wiped his tears, he leaves, telling the dentist to send the bill. When Escovar asks whether to send the bill "To you or the town?," the mayor replies, "It’s the same damn thing."

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On Easter Eve

Chekhov, Anton

Last Updated: Sep-05-2006
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

On the night before Easter, a traveler waits to cross the river to a monastery. Finally, a lay brother named Jerome brings the ferry across. As the ferry moves slowly to the other bank, Jerome reveals his sadness over the death of Nicholas, a fellow monk who wrote beautiful prayers for saints’ days. "Can you tell me, kind master," Jerome asks, "why it is that even in the presence of great happiness a man cannot forget his grief?"

Jerome loved Nicholas who was very quiet, kind and tender, not at all like the other monks, who are loud and harsh. At the monastery the traveler participates in services throughout the night, then returns to the ferry after sunrise on Easter morning. Jerome is still working the ferry. His promised relief has not arrived.

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