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Man vs. Society in American Short StoriesA student has asked me the...

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted February 23, 2008 at 8:45 AM via web

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Man vs. Society in American Short Stories

A student has asked me the following question:   

I am doing a research on the conflict between individual and society in American short stories. I now had a few short stories having this theme, but they are not enough to survey. Can you suggest some more short stories?

Thanks a lot!

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted February 23, 2008 at 9:04 AM (Answer #2)

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There should not be much of a problem finding stories.  Man vs. society is the foundation of much of American letters.  Some of my favorites are:

"The Rules of the Game"  by Amy Tan http://www.enotes.com/rules-game

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"  by Washington Irving  http://www.enotes.com/legend-sleepy

"A&P" by John Updike http://www.enotes.com/and-pa

"A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner  http://www.enotes.com/rose-emily

"Indian Camp," by Ernest Hemingway  http://www.enotes.com/indian-camp

"The Lottery," by Shirley Jackson  http://www.enotes.com/lottery

I'm sure others can recommend even more for you. 

 

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cybil | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted February 23, 2008 at 9:54 AM (Answer #3)

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How about these?  "The Lottery" (Jackson), "Battle Royal" (Ellison), "The Cop and the Anthem" (O. Henry), "My Kinsman, Major Molineux" (Hawthorne), "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg: (Twain, "The Blue Hotel" (Crane), "The Displaced Person" (O'Connor), "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" (Harte), "Unlighted Lamps" (Anderson), "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" (Fitzgerald), or "A Rose for Emily" (Faulkner).

Some of these are a bit of a stretch, I realize, because man vs. society is probably not the primary conflict.

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted February 23, 2008 at 10:09 AM (Answer #4)

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Desiree's Baby, by Kate Chopin

http://www.enotes.com/desirees-baby

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber

http://www.enotes.com/secret-life/

The Outcasts of Poker Flats by Bret Harte

http://www.enotes.com/outcasts-poker

Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville

http://www.enotes.com/bartleby-scrivener

 

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 23, 2008 at 10:47 AM (Answer #5)

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Some of my favorites are

"Hands" by Sherwood Anderson

"The Worn Path" by Eudora Welty

"The White Heron" by Sarah Orne Jewett

Is that last one a bit of a stretch?  I'm thinking values of the individual as expressed by the little girl, vs. values of society as brought in by the visitor...

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julierunacres | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted February 23, 2008 at 12:25 PM (Answer #6)

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If it's the individual, as opposed to man, against (patriarchal) society, then Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper, would be great. It would make a good comparative study with Kate Chopin's The Awakening.

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Susan Woodward | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted February 23, 2008 at 12:46 PM (Answer #7)

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How about these?

"The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell

"The Red Headed League" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"By the Waters of Babylon" by Stephen Vincent Benet

"The Sniper" by Liam O'Flaherty

"The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant

"An Occurrance at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce

"In the Vault" by H.P. Lovecraft

"Rappacinni's Daughter" by Nathanial Hawthorne

"Young Goodman Brown" by Nathanial Hawthorne

 

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nancynguyen | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 23, 2008 at 9:36 PM (Answer #8)

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Thanks a lot for all of your help!

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 24, 2008 at 2:00 PM (Answer #9)

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How about "The Shawshank Redemption" by Stephen King? 

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 24, 2008 at 9:18 PM (Answer #10)

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Of all the ones listed, I would most recommend "Bartleby".  With the mirror effect of Bartleby on the narrator, known only by his position as a lawyer and not by any name, readers can really see the destructive nature of urban society and capitalism. 

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