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

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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's profile pic

Posted (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. 


cybil's profile pic

Posted (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.

linda-allen's profile pic

Posted (Answer #4)

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Desiree's Baby, by Kate Chopin


The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber


The Outcasts of Poker Flats by Bret Harte


Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville



dymatsuoka's profile pic

Posted (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...

julierunacres's profile pic

Posted (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.

amethystrose's profile pic

Posted (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


nancynguyen's profile pic

Posted (Answer #8)

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Thanks a lot for all of your help!

amy-lepore's profile pic

Posted (Answer #9)

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How about "The Shawshank Redemption" by Stephen King? 

sullymonster's profile pic

Posted (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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