Man vs. Society in American Short StoriesA 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...

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!

9 Answers

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

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

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"  by Washington Irving

"A&P" by John Updike

"A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner

"Indian Camp," by Ernest Hemingway

"The Lottery," by Shirley Jackson

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


cybil's profile pic

cybil | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

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.

amethystrose's profile pic

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

Posted on

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


dymatsuoka's profile pic

dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

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...

sullymonster's profile pic

sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

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. 

julierunacres's profile pic

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

Posted on

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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