Short stories can be an enjoyable form to work with because the narrative often pivots around one major event. You can generally sketch out the premise of a short story after your initial reading. Subsequent readings will contribute to a deeper understanding of the work and save time in analysis.
One might begin describing "Reb Kringle" as a story about a Rabbi narrator who, for whatever reason, has been working as a department store Santa Claus for many years. He doesn’t seem too excited about playing Santa this time around, and, in a bittersweet moment of comedy, the limits of his patience are revealed.
Once you’ve acquainted yourself with the basic plot, it can be helpful to ask yourself a few questions:
What is the setting (where and when) of the story?
Who are the primary characters, and what role do they play?
What is the main conflict of the story, and how is it resolved?
Are there other notable conflicts happening, and how do they relate to the main conflict?
Are there elements of the writing style (e.g., figurative language, recurring motifs) that reinforce or alter the way the reader might interpret the story?
An engaging summary should exhibit a deep understanding of the work. Once you determine the plot and how it functions, it is often helpful to read the text again rather than rushing into analysis. While your emotional reaction to a piece of literature can be interesting, objective analysis should come first. Also, consider your audience: Refrain from revealing too many important plot details if you’re summarizing for people who haven’t necessarily read the story, and focus on less-obvious plot elements if you’re summarizing for an expert.