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TO T H E R E A D E R 8

ON STYLE 10

L I T E R A R Y E L E M E N T S O F T H E S H O R T S TO R Y 13

UNIT ONE

Literature from the 1920s to the 1940s

I N A NOTHER C OUNTRY (1927) E RNEST H EMINGWAY 21

HE (1930) K ATHERINE A NNE P ORTER 29

BABYLON R EVISITED (1931) F. S COTT F ITZGERALD 43

T HE FAR AND THE N EAR (1935) T HOMAS WOLFE 67

S UCKER (1936) C ARSON M C C ULLERS 73

T HE C HRYSANTHEMUMS (1937) J OHN S TEINBECK 85

W HY I L IVE AT THE P.O. (1941) E UDORA W ELTY 99

T HE B LACK BALL (ca. 1941) R ALPH E LLISON 115

T HE S ECRET L IFE OF WALTER M ITTY (1942) J AMES T HURBER 127

T HE L OTTERY (1944) S HIRLEY J ACKSON 135

M IRIAM (1945) T RUMAN C APOTE 147

Responding to Unit One 162


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UNIT TWO

Literature from the 1950s and 1960s

T HE V ELDT (1950) R AY B RADBURY 169

BARN B URNING (1950) W ILLIAM FAULKNER 185

A NGEL L EVINE (1955) B ERNARD M ALAMUD 207

T HE W RYSONS (1978) J OHN C HEEVER 221

H ARRISON B ERGERON (1961) K URT VONNEGUT 231

E VERYTHING T HAT R ISES M UST C ONVERGE (1961)

F LANNERY O’C ONNOR 241

A & P (1961) J OHN U PDIKE 259

T HE S KY I S G RAY (1963) E RNEST J. G AINES 269

T HE WOOING OF A RIADNE (1965) H ARRY M ARK P ETRAKIS 299

Responding to Unit Two 314


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UNIT THREE

Literature from the 1970s and 1980s

T HE K EY (1970) I SAAC B ASHEVIS S INGER 321

T HE F LOWERS (1973) A LICE WALKER 333

W HERE H AVE YOU G ONE , C HARMING B ILLY ? (1975) T IM O’B RIEN 337

E VERYTHING S TUCK TO H IM (1981) R AYMOND C ARVER 349

D ETROIT S KYLINE , 1949 (1982) B OBBIE A NN M ASON 357

A MERICAN H ORSE (1983) L OUISE E RDRICH 377

T HE W RITER IN THE FAMILY (1984) E.L. D OCTOROW 391

T HE F ISH (1986) RUSSELL B ANKS 407

T RUCKSTOP (1987) G ARRISON K EILLOR 417

R ULES OF THE G AME (1989) A MY TAN 425

Responding to Unit Three 438


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UNIT FOUR

Literature from the 1990s

L ADIES AND G ENTLEMEN : (1990) J OYCE C AROL OATES 445

FAULT L INES (1992) B ARBARA K INGSOLVER 455

T OP OF THE F OOD C HAIN (1992) T. C ORAGHESSAN B OYLE 467

L ETTERS FROM M Y FATHER (1992 ) ROBERT O LEN B UTLER 475

T HIS I S W HAT I T M EANS TO S AY P HOENIX , A RIZONA (1993 )

S HERMAN A LEXIE 485

T HE I NTRUDER (1995) A NDRE D UBUS 499

M ORTALS (1996) TOBIAS WOLFF 513

C HARLIE H OGLE ’ S E ARRING (1997) PAUL T HEROUX 525

Responding to Unit Four


© Alex Katz/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

540

G L O S SA R Y O F L I T E R A R Y T E R M S 542

I N D E X O F T I T L E S A N D AU T H O R S 546
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TO THE READER

n American father in search of his daughter in France. A ranch woman


in the Salinas Valley who yearns for companionship and a sense of self-
worth. A postmistress in Mississippi who decides to live at the post office
after feuding with her eccentric family. A terrified soldier in Vietnam who
longs for his Minnesota home.
These are some of the characters and situations you will encounter in
American Short Stories: 1920 to the Present. They are as varied as the geography
of the U.S. itself. Yet their common denominator is that each is part of a short
story, a form—like jazz or baseball—that some claim is uniquely American.
Of course, thousands of American short stories have been written, and
collections of them abound. What sets this volume apart is its emphasis on
the authors’ writing styles. By examining approaches as diverse as the spare,
understated prose of Ernest Hemingway and the dazzling imagery of Louise
Erdrich, you will come to recognize many elements of style. It has been said
that style is comprised of the fingerprints an author leaves on a story, mak-
ing it so unmistakably his or hers that a careful reader can tell who has writ-
ten it without the byline.
As many of the writers in this volume have remarked, good reading
comes before good writing. Reading this book and completing the activities
will help you shape your own writing style.
Aside from what you will learn about style, this volume provides an
overview of the American short story’s development over the last century.
Many literary historians credit Edgar Allan Poe, the master of horror, with
inventing, or at least refining, the short story form in the mid-19th century.
He saw the short story as different from the novel not only in length but also
in intention and form. Writing when Americans were still trying to create a
distinct literature for their country, Poe developed highly atmospheric, tightly
constructed stories in which brevity and unity contributed to a single,
focused effect.
Other American writers followed Poe’s example by developing their own
subjects and methods. From the beginning, a particular focus of the
American short story has been the theme of personal identity, often explored

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in stories of personal quests that determine an individual’s sense of self and


relationship to others and the world.
During the 19th century, nearly all of the basic themes and issues of the
American short story were introduced and developed by writers such as
Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, and Kate Chopin.
These and other writers focused on specifically American locations, subjects,
and problems, developing a wide range of styles for storytelling. Their sto-
ries arose from local history, moral fables, character studies, and the dilem-
mas posed by race and class.
Against the backdrop of westward expansion, the effects of the Industrial
Revolution, and the impact of wave after wave of immigration, American
writers explored crucial moments of insight in response to conflicts and
dilemmas. The short story—with its limited cast of characters, few scenes or
episodes, and focus on a single effect—provided a good forum for such
explorations. It was practical, besides. With Americans spread out across a
continent, ten cent magazines delivered nationwide by mail gave the coun-
try a sense of having its own literature. It also provided a mass market for
short story writers.
Change was even more rapid in the 20th century, when the stories in this
volume begin. Social, political, and cultural developments included the
building of transcontinental highways, the Constitutional amendment
allowing women to vote, and broad recognition that World War I had intro-
duced a new era of fears and possibilities. American stories since 1920 fre-
quently focus on the relationships of individuals to the changing times,
other people, and locations both familiar and new.
Many 20th-century writers whose works are represented in this book
convey a firm sense of regional identity. Others focus on the lives of people
in the city and the suburbs. Still others explore ethnic identity. The
approaches of these writers range from the use of straightforward plots with
conventional language to the creation of quirky plot lines, points of view,
and narrative voices. The tone ranges from assertive pride to playful irony to
sympathy for suffering and loss.
Since the United States is constantly changing, no single story could
appropriately be called the American story. America is a complex whole,
comprised of countless individual experiences. To read this collection of
short stories is not to define the American experience so much as to learn
from various pieces of it. It is to find yourself—in a phrase borrowed from
John Steinbeck—in search of America.

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ON STYLE

s you study this collection of American short stories, you will be intro-
duced to some of the 20th century’s most important writers. Almost cer-
tainly you won’t “like” every one, but each author has a unique message to
send and a distinctive way of sending it. The way a writer conveys a message
is called his or her style. Whether in clothing, music, visual art, or literature,
style is easy to see but hard to define. You might think of style in writing as
the way thoughts are dressed. While reading this collection of the greatest
short stories from the 20th century, you will be able to explore the authors’
styles. Analyzing style will make you a more perceptive reader and help you
develop your own writer’s voice. A good definition of style for this book is
that it is the author’s distinctive manner of expression.
As in most arts, it takes time and familiarity to recognize distinctions
among literary styles. Perhaps an analogy will help here. To the untrained
eye, a forest is just a collection of indistinct trees. To the trained eye, howev-
er, the forest is composed of a grove of white oaks on the hillside, a stand of
willows by the stream, and thorn-bearing hawthorn trees along its edges. As
you read, follow the Literary Lens prompts and pay close attention to the
information about the author’s life and style that precedes each selection.
Before long, clear distinctions will emerge.
In fact, some writers have such distinctive styles that they have spawned
imitators. The works of authors who follow paths blazed by Ernest
Hemingway and William Faulkner are sometimes called “Hemingwayesque”
or “Faulknerian.” Hemingway probably would have been startled by such
praise. He once wrote, “In stating as fully as I could how things were, it was
often very difficult and I wrote awkwardly and the awkwardness is what they
called my style.”
Hemingway is not alone in implying that he never deliberately set out
to create a style, but only wrote as well as he could instinctively. Katherine
Anne Porter once complained, “I’ve been called a stylist until I really could
tear my hair out. And I simply don’t believe in style. Style is you.”
Style is hard to describe because part of it is a certain indefinable
uniqueness. Some aspects of style are easier to pin down, however. That’s

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because style includes the set of choices and techniques that enable a writer
to tell a story. Choices regarding characterization, setting, and tone—to
name a few—impact the style of a story. But there are other sources of style,
such as the author’s background, whether that author is a man or a woman,
and the author’s race or ethnicity.
For example, F. Scott Fitzgerald grew up in modest circumstances in St.
Paul, Minnesota. He later left the Midwest and became fascinated with the
flamboyant rich of the East Coast. Fitzgerald’s descriptions often mix criti-
cism, sympathy, and awe for the rich lifestyle, as in this one-line character
sketch in his novel The Great Gatsby: “Her voice is full of money.” The sto-
ries of Alice Walker, on the other hand, come out of her experience as a
woman of color growing up in the United States. Her fiction often depicts a
female character finding her way in an environment of oppression.
Personal values also determine writers’ attitudes toward their characters.
John Steinbeck’s sympathies for those who fled the Oklahoma Dust Bowl of
the 1930s went into his writing about the struggle of common people for
economic justice. Flannery O’Connor’s fiction reflects her devout
Catholicism; her grotesque characters and often violent story lines express
her belief in the need for salvation. The combination of background, gen-
der, ethnicity, and values makes up the author’s world view.
Style also develops from writers’ responses to earlier writers they have
read. Some choose to work within a stylistic tradition, such as social real-
ism, in which the everyday lives of characters are depicted against a social,
political, and economic background that is presented as a matter of fact.
John Steinbeck, Katherine Anne Porter, John Updike, and Russell Banks are
among the American writers in this tradition. Other writers rebel against tra-
dition or find it necessary to innovate. They develop new styles to convey a
particular point of view. For example, William Faulkner uses internal
monologue to narrate stories through characters whose limitations would
make it impossible for them to tell their stories in the usual way. Ray
Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut use futuristic settings in order to question and
probe current attitudes and trends.
Another aspect of style is tone, or the author’s attitude toward his or her
subject. Words such as “sympathetic,” “comic,” “passionate,” or “harsh” can
be used to describe the attitude of the writer. The tone helps determine the
story’s intellectual and emotional impact on the reader. One of the domi-
nant tones of fiction in the 20th century is irony. Irony reflects the sadness
or humor resulting from the gap between life as it is idealized, and life as it

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really is. Generally irony is used to criticize some aspect of society or to


reveal the silliness of people’s behavior. Irony also results from unusual or
unexpected points of view, oddly humorous situations, and shocking reve-
lations or sudden turns of event. Sherman Alexie uses ironic humor to
reveal the sad realities of Native American life on and off the reservation.
Flannery O’Connor, Kurt Vonnegut, John Cheever, Joyce Carol Oates, and
T. Coraghessan Boyle are among many whose stories use irony that is some-
times comic and sometimes bitingly satirical.
Finally, style includes the way a writer uses language. Some writers, like
Thomas Wolfe, are said to be lyrical—that is, expressing intense personal
emotions in much the same way as a songwriter or poet. Some, like
Raymond Carver, are considered minimalists—that is, they let the events of
the story speak for themselves without much interpretation from the author.
Others, like Harry Mark Petrakis, are described as colorful, meaning full of
variety and interest. Still others, such as T. Coraghessan Boyle, are labeled
energetic, writing in a way that is so highly charged the reader has little
choice but to go along for the ride.
Other contributions to style include: language used by the story’s narra-
tor and in the dialogue of characters; variations in dialect and usage that are
tied to particular groups of people or regions of the country; repetitions of
key words and phrases; and even the length and structure of individual sen-
tences. Truman Capote once wrote, “I think of myself as a stylist, and styl-
ists can become notoriously obsessed with the placing of a comma, the
weight of a semicolon.”
Faulkner’s long, sometimes convoluted sentences convey the dynamic
intensity of his characters’ thoughts and emotions while the dialogue of his
characters is written in the rural vernacular of his native Mississippi. The
rhythm of Yiddish storytelling is reflected in the prose of Isaac Bashevis
Singer. The speech of Katherine Anne Porter’s characters often reflects her
roots in rural Texas and the languages of Mexico and other countries in
which she lived. The dialogue of the American-born daughters and native
Chinese mothers in Amy Tan’s stories reveal the barriers that language dif-
ferences can create within a family as well as within a society.
Ultimately, how you respond to the author’s style contributes greatly to
the pleasure of reading. As American poet Robert Frost put it, “All the fun’s
in how you say a thing.”

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Literature from the 1920s to the 1940s

The years between 1920 and 1950 were ones of tumult and
growth for the United States. This was reflected in the literature
of the period as the country recovered from the trauma of
World War I and then reveled in the energetic social and cul-
tural ferment of the “Roaring Twenties.” The exuberance of the
twenties was stilled in the thirties as the country grappled with
economic disaster, which began with the stock market crash of
1929. The crash, which was followed by a long-term depres-
sion and a terrible drought in the country’s heartland, led to
quiet despair for many Americans. Ironically, it took World
War II to restore the economy as the country’s factories began
to produce the material needed to allow the U.S. to take a lead-
ing role in stopping fascism and imperialism in Europe.
The thirties and forties were major decades in the era
referred to as modern. In this period, much of the writing
reflected a national mood of sober reality rather than the ear-
lier optimism of the beginning of the century. A sense of sepa-
ration, deprivation, and loss was prevalent. This is reflected in
many of the stories and novels of the era, such as Ernest
Hemingway’s war stories and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tales of The
Jazz Age and the “crack-up” that followed it. Meanwhile, John
Steinbeck contributed gritty stories of working-class struggle.
In many of the short stories from the period, dreaming, heal-
top to bottom: 1930: Couple Descending a
Staircase by J.C. Leyendecker illustrates the ing, and survival are prominent themes. Also notable is a tone
indulgent pursuit of pleasure and wealth of wistfulness for something better—more money and security,
during the 1920s. ★ 1933: The White Angel
Breadline by Dorothea Lange.This and more excitement or love, peace in the family and the world.
other Lange photos put a face on American literature of this era also reflected the begin-
the devastation of the Great Depression.
★ 1945: The Liberation of Buchenwald nings of numerous migrations. African Americans were drawn
by Margaret Bourke-White showed the
from the South by promises of more freedom and economic
world the horror of the WWII Nazi
concentration camps. opportunity up North. The artistic flowering of the Harlem

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Renaissance was one reflection of this trend. At the same time,


there was a nationwide migration from the country to the
cities, giving rise to new possibilities as well as new problems.
A strain of nostalgia for simpler or more innocent times can be
heard in the stories of Wolfe and Fitzgerald. And finally, tens
of thousands were drawn toward the “golden” West, a migra-
tion chronicled in the fiction of John Steinbeck.
Many of the stories of this period focus less on historical
or public events than on the specific places and families in
which individuals made their lives. In his novels and stories,
Thomas Wolfe wrote poignantly about what it means to long
for home, and James Thurber’s cartoons and stories provided
readers with a humorous view of their own silliness. Regional
writers from the Midwest (including Hemingway and
Fitzgerald) and from the South (Wolfe, William Faulkner,
Carson McCullers, Eudora Welty, and Truman Capote) gained
a national readership.
top to bottom: 1930: Adolph Hitler at a Nazi
The styles of this period range from the pared-down sen-
rally in Dortmund, Germany. ★ 1936: Death
tences of Hemingway to the brilliantly descriptive writing of of a Loyalist Soldier by Robert Capa, taken
during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939).
Fitzgerald and the emotional prose of Wolfe. Katherine Anne
Almost 3,000 American volunteers formed the
Porter developed sensitive and Abe Lincoln Brigade in a losing cause to
defend Spain against a military takeover led
complex character studies. by General Francisco Franco. ★ 1936: Dust
Faulkner experimented with inter- Bowl by Arthur Rothstein. Severe drought
caused the collapse of farming in the Midwest
nal monologue and stream-of- at a time when America was already suffering
consciousness. The basic tone of from the Depression. ★ 1940: St. Paul’s
Cathedral was photographed by John Topham
literature of the era was ironic— during a WWII firebomb attack on London.
★ 1945: Iwo Jima by Joe Rosenthal. Marines
one that called attention to the
raise the flag at the top of Mt. Suribachi on the
gap between what people believed Japanese island of Iwo Jima. A fierce battle for
the island raged for 36 days and resulted
and wanted, and what their lives
in over 23,000 U.S. casualties, including three
were really like. of the flag raisers in the picture.

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Ernest Hemingway
1899–1961

About the Author


An innovative writing style and an adventurous, City Star. He served as an ambu-
much-publicized life made Ernest Hemingway lance driver during World War I
not only one of the most influential writers of and was seriously wounded at
the 20th century but also a cultural icon. A the age of eighteen.
leader of the post-World War I group of artists Like the heroes of his fic-
known as “The Lost Generation,” Hemingway tion, the author courted danger to prove his
was a big game hunter and fisherman, world courage.Two plane crashes late in life left him in
traveler, and war correspondent.These pursuits a state of chronic pain that some say prompted
influenced his work, which is often set in Africa his suicide. Like his father before him, he died of
or Europe. a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Among his best-
Born to a doctor’s family in Oak Park, known works are the novels A Farewell to Arms
Illinois, Hemingway edited his high school news- and The Old Man and the Sea, the latter of which
paper and worked as a reporter at The Kansas earned the Pulitzer Prize.

★★★★★★★★★★★

The Author’s Style


Many of Hemingway’s stories involve initiations Hemingway mistrusted flowery and official-sound-
or tests, both of which stress codes of conduct ing language, preferring to use much simpler, con-
that typically require courage and endurance. His crete language in both narration and dialogue.
characters are involved in violent activities such The ironic tone of Hemingway’s storytelling
as boxing, hunting, bullfighting, and combat, is also crucial. In his war stories, it reflects his
where they are in a position to suffer both phys- cynicism about authorities who use notions such
ical and psychological wounds. as duty in pushing naïve soldiers to sacrifice
Spare, understated prose is a hallmark of the themselves. Sometimes a Hemingway character
Hemingway style. It emphasizes carefully pared- uses irony to protect himself from fully acknowl-
down declarative sentences based on simple edging the depth of his pain. So it is particularly
syntax, strategic repetition, and a minimum of important whenever a Hemingway character
explanatory material. This style nevertheless does make a direct statement about his feelings
conveys his characters’ situations and feelings. It is or his situation.The story you are about to read
considered by many to be his most important owes its insight to the author’s personal war
contribution to 20th-century American fiction. experiences.

LITERARY LENS Pay attention to the mood of this story.


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IN
ANOTHER
COUNTRY
E R N E S T H E M I N G WAY

n the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it any
1
more. It was cold in the fall in Milan and the dark came very
early. Then the electric lights came on, and it was pleasant
along the streets looking in the windows. There was much
game hanging outside the shops, and the snow powdered in
the fur of the foxes and the wind blew their tails. The deer
hung stiff and heavy and empty, and small birds blew in the
wind and the wind turned their feathers. It was a cold fall and the
wind came down from the mountains.
We were all at the hospital every afternoon, and there were
different ways of walking across the town through the dusk to the
hospital. Two of the ways were alongside canals, but they were long.
Always, though, you crossed a bridge across a canal to enter the

1 Milan: a large city in northern Italy

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hospital. There was a choice of three bridges. On one of them a woman sold
roasted chestnuts. It was warm, standing in front of her charcoal fire, and the
chestnuts were warm afterward in your pocket. The hospital was very old and
very beautiful, and you entered through a gate and walked across a courtyard
and out a gate on the other side. There were usually funerals starting from the
pavilions: courtyard. Beyond the old hospital were the new brick pavilions, and there
annexes or
we met every afternoon and were all very polite and interested in what was
outbuildings
the matter, and sat in the machines that were to make so much difference.
The doctor came up to the machine where I was sitting and said: “What
did you like best to do before the war? Did you practice a sport?”
I said: “Yes, football.”
“Good,” he said. “You will be able to play football again better than
ever.”
My knee did not bend and the leg dropped straight from the knee to the
ankle without a calf, and the machine was to bend the knee and make it
move as in riding a tricycle. But it did not bend yet, and instead the machine
lurched when it came to the bending part. The doctor said: “That will all
pass. You are a fortunate young man. You will play football again like a
champion.”
In the next machine was a major who had a little hand like a baby’s. He
winked at me when the doctor examined his hand, which was between two
leather straps that bounced up and down and flapped the stiff fingers, and
said: “And will I too play football, captain-doctor?” He had been a very great
fencer, and before the war the greatest fencer in Italy.
The doctor went to his office in a back room and brought a photograph
which showed a hand that had been withered almost as small as the major’s,
before it had taken a machine course, and after was a little larger. The major
held the photograph with his good hand and looked at it very carefully. “A
wound?” he asked.
“An industrial accident,” the doctor said.
“Very interesting, very interesting,” the major said, and handed it back to
the doctor.
“You have confidence?”
“No,” said the major.
There were three boys who came each day who were about the same age
I was. They were all three from Milan, and one of them was to be a lawyer,
and one was to be a painter, and one had intended to be a soldier, and after

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we were finished with the machines, sometimes we walked back together to


2
the Café Cova, which was next door to the Scala. We walked the short way
through the communist quarter because we were four together. The people
hated us because we were officers, and from a wine-shop someone would call
3
out, “A basso gli ufficiali!” as we passed. Another boy who walked with us
sometimes and made us five wore a black
silk handkerchief across his face because he
had no nose then and his face was to be
rebuilt. He had gone out to the front from
the military academy and been wounded
within an hour after he had gone into the
front line for the first time. They rebuilt his
face, but he came from a very old family
and they could never get the nose exactly
right. He went to South America and
worked in a bank. But this was a long time
ago, and then we did not any of us know
how it was going to be afterward. We only
knew then that there was always the war,
but that we were not going to it any more.
We all had the same medals, except the
boy with the black silk bandage across his
face, and he had not been at the front long
enough to get any medals. The tall boy with
the very pale face who was to be a lawyer
4
had been lieutenant of Arditi and had three
medals of the sort we each had only one of.
He had lived a very long time with death
and was a little detached. We were all a lit- E RNEST H EMINGWAY RECOVERING FROM WWI WOUNDS ,
tle detached, and there was nothing that I TALY, 1919
held us together except that we met every
afternoon at the hospital. Although, as we walked to the Cova through the
tough part of town, walking in the dark, with light and singing coming out
of the wine-shops, and sometimes having to walk into the street when the

2 Scala: La Scala, a famous opera house in Milan

3 “A basso gli ufficiali!”: Italian for “Down with the officers!”

4 Arditi: heavily armed and highly trained soldiers who were given the most dangerous combat assignments

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men and women would crowd together on the


sidewalk so that we would have had to jostle
T he boys at first were very them to get by, we felt held together by there
being something that had happened that they,
polite about my medals the people who disliked us, did not under-
and asked me what I had stand.
We ourselves all understood the Cova,
done to get them. where it was rich and warm and not too brightly
lighted, and noisy and smoky at certain hours,
and there were always girls at the tables and the illustrated papers on a rack
on the wall. The girls at the Cova were very patriotic, and I found that the
most patriotic people in Italy were the café girls—and I believe they are still
patriotic.
The boys at first were very polite about my medals and asked me what I
had done to get them. I showed them the papers, which were written in very
5 6
beautiful language and full of fratellanza and abnegazione, but which really
said, with the adjectives removed, that I had been given the medals because
I was an American. After that their manner changed a little toward me,
although I was their friend against outsiders. I was a friend, but I was never
really one of them after they had read the citations, because it had been dif-
ferent with them and they had done very different things to get their medals.
I had been wounded, it was true; but we all knew that being wounded, after
all, was really an accident. I was never ashamed of the ribbons, though, and
sometimes, after the cocktail hour, I would imagine myself having done all
the things they had done to get their medals; but walking home at night
through the empty streets with the cold wind and all the shops closed, trying
to keep near the street lights, I knew that I would never have done such
things, and I was very much afraid to die, and often lay in bed at night by
myself, afraid to die and wondering how I would be when I went back to the
front again.
7
The three with the medals were like hunting-hawks; and I was not a
hawk, although I might seem a hawk to those who had never hunted; they,
the three, knew better and so we drifted apart. But I stayed good friends with

5 fratellanza: brotherhood

6 abnegazione: sacrifice

7 hunting-hawks: Literally, hunting hawks are birds trained to hunt and kill prey; with reference to war, “hawks” are
people who are pro-military.

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the boy who had been wounded his first day at the front, because he would
never know now how he would have turned out; so he could never be accepted
either, and I liked him because I thought perhaps he would not have turned
out to be a hawk either.
The major, who had been the great fencer, did not believe in bravery, and
spent much time while we sat in the machines correcting my grammar. He
had complimented me on how I spoke Italian, and we talked together very
easily. One day I had said that Italian seemed such an easy language to me
that I could not take a great interest in it; everything was so easy to say. “Ah,
yes,” the major said. “Why, then, do you not take up the use of grammar?”
So we took up the use of grammar, and soon Italian was such a difficult lan-
guage that I was afraid to talk to him until I had the grammar straight in my
mind.
The major came very regularly to the hospital. I do not think he ever
missed a day, although I am sure he did not believe in the machines. There
was a time when none of us believed in the machines, and one day the major
said it was all nonsense. The machines were new then and it was we who
were to prove them. It was an idiotic idea, he said, “a theory, like another.” I
had not learned my grammar, and he said I was a stupid impossible disgrace,
and he was a fool to have bothered with me. He was a small man and he sat
straight up in his chair with his right hand thrust into the machine and
looked straight ahead at the wall while the straps thumped up and down
with his fingers in them.
“What will you do when the war is over if it is over?” he asked me. “Speak
grammatically!”
“I will go to the States.”
“Are you married?”
“No, but I hope to be.”
“The more of a fool you are,” he said. He seemed very angry. “A man
must not marry.”
“Why, Signor Maggiore?”
“Don’t call me ‘Signor Maggiore.’”
“Why must not a man marry?”
“He cannot marry. He cannot marry,” he said angrily. “If he is to lose
everything, he should not place himself in a position to lose that. He should
not place himself in a position to lose. He should find things he cannot
lose.”

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He spoke very angrily and bitterly, and looked straight ahead while he
talked.
“But why should he necessarily lose it?”
“He’ll lose it,” the major said. He was looking at the wall. Then he looked
down at the machine and jerked his little hand out from between the straps
and slapped it hard against his thigh. “He’ll lose it,” he almost shouted.
“Don’t argue with me!” Then he called to the attendant who ran the
machines. “Come and turn this damned thing off.”
He went back into the other room for the light treatment and the mas-
sage. Then I heard him ask the doctor if he might use his telephone and he
shut the door. When he came back into the room, I was sitting in another
machine. He was wearing his cape and had his cap on, and he came directly
toward my machine and put his arm on my shoulder.
“I am sorry,” he said, and patted me on the shoulder with his good hand.
“I would not be rude. My wife has just died. You must forgive me.”
“Oh—” I said, feeling sick for him. “I am so sorry.”
He stood there biting his lower lip. “It is very difficult,” he said. “I can-
not resign myself.”
He looked straight past me and out through the window. Then he began
to cry. “I am utterly unable to resign myself,” he said and choked. And then
crying, his head up looking at nothing, carrying himself straight and soldierly,
with tears on both cheeks and biting his lips, he walked past the machines
and out the door.
The doctor told me that the major’s wife, who was very young and whom
8
he had not married until he was definitely invalided out of the war, had died
of pneumonia. She had been sick only a few days. No one expected her to die.
The major did not come to the hospital for three days. Then he came at the
usual hour, wearing a black band on the sleeve of his uniform. When he came
back, there were large framed photographs around the wall, of all sorts of
wounds before and after they had been cured by the machines. In front of the
machine the major used were three photographs of hands like his that were
completely restored. I do not know where the doctor got them. I always under-
stood we were the first to use the machines. The photographs did not make
much difference to the major because he only looked out of the window.

8 invalided out of the war: meaning that the major was injured and could no longer fight in the war

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Responding to the Story


1. LITERARY LENS What other ‘countries’ did you discover in this story?
1. LITERARY LENS Mood is conveyed through descriptions of the
2. Hemingway
setting, the author’s
once defined
(or narrator’s)
courage asattitude
“grace toward
under pressure.”
the story, How
and do
through
you thinkimagery.
the narrator
Selectand
onethe
of the
majorimages
in this
in story
the story
might
anddefine
describe
or
how
describe
it influences
courage?the mood of the story.

2.
3. Hemingway once is known
defined
as ancourage
“existentialist”
as “gracewriter.
underExistentialism
pressure.” In is
what
the
way,
beliefif that
at all,humans
is this idea
existdemonstrated
in a universe that
in “InisAnother
impossible
Country”?
to understand.
Nonetheless, we must still assume responsibility for our actions with-
3. Hemingway
out knowingisfor known as what
an “existentialist” writer.InExistentialism is the
certain is right or wrong. what ways does “In
belief thatCountry”
humans exist in the
an empty
idea ofuniverse that does not care
Another reflect existentialism?
about human existence. In the face of this nothingness and loneliness,
4. What
humans domust
you think
createthetheir
view own
of the
meaning
narrator
and ispurpose.
toward Inwar
what
andways
the mil-
does
itary establishment?
“In Another Country” Supportreflect
your answer
the idea
withof existentialism?
evidence from the text.

4. THE AdoUTHOR
5. What ’S Sthe
you think TYLEview
Read
of the narrator
passage below.
is toward
Locate
warpassages
and the in
the
military
storyestablishment?
that reflect Hemingway’s
Support yourinterest
answerinwith
the “true
evidence
simple
fromdeclara-
tive sentence.” Then attempt to emulate Hemingway’s method and
the text.
style. For example, you might look for the first declarative sentence in
5. aTHE
piece of your’own
AUTHOR writing.Then
S STYLE cut the
After reading the“scrollwork or ornament”
quotation below, locate
and “go from there.”
two sentences in the story that seem to fit his description of the
“true simple declarative sentence.”

One True Sentence

Sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it
going . . . I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think,
“Do not worry.You have always written before and you will write
now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest
sentence that you know.” So finally I would write one true sentence, and
then go on from there . . . If I started to write elaborately, or like some-
one introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that
scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the
first true simple declarative sentence I had written.

—Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

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RESPONDING TO UNIT ONE

Experiencing
1. For their grotesque and macabre incidents, both “The Lottery” and “Miriam” might
appear in a collection of horror stories.Which do you find more satisfyingly
creepy and why?
2. Reread the last paragraph of each story in this unit.Which do you think is the most
memorable and why?

Interpreting
3. In three of the stories in this unit—“He,” “The Far and the Near,” and “The
Chrysanthemums”—at least one important character is never given a name.Why do
you think the authors made this choice in each instance?
4. The theme of the mysterious stranger is common in literature. In the traditional form
of this theme, a mysterious stranger appears in the life of an individual or community. In
a series of dramatic events, the stranger makes a sacrifice through which the life of the
individual or community is improved. Choose one of the short stories in this chapter
that features a stranger: “The Chrysanthemums,” “Miriam,” or “The Black Ball.” Explain
how the story fits, or deviates from, the theme of the mysterious stranger.
5. The ball is important in “The Black Ball” and the black box plays a central role in “The
Lottery.” What do these two objects have in common?

Evaluating
6. The first six stories in this unit have a theme of loss in common. In your opinion, which
story evokes the most pathos?
7. Hemingway and Fitzgerald were both friends and competitors, moving in the same
social circles and writing during the same era.What differences and similarities do you
see between “In Another Country” and “Babylon Revisited”?
8. The opening sentence of Anna Karenina by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy reads: “All
happy families resemble one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
In what unique ways are the families in “He” and “Why I Live at the P.O.” unhappy?

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WRITING ABOUT THE LITERATURE

Staying Power
The stories in this unit were all written more than 50 years ago.Write a persuasive
essay about which story you think has best stood the test of time.You may want to use
passages from the story as evidence. Consider what is timeless about the style, theme,
or characters of the story you choose.

WRITING WITH STYLE

Choose one of these two assignments.

Sucker’s Point of View


Using McCullers’ style, rewrite the climax of “Sucker” as an interior monologue from
the point of view of Sucker.

“The Secret Life of _______”


Fill in the blank with the name of a seemingly ordinary character of your own creation.
Using Thurber’s style, put this character into an everyday situation that the character
converts into a grandiose fantasy starring him- or herself.

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IN YOUR OWN STYLE


After reflecting on how important the theme of loss is in many of the stories in this
unit, consider your own life.What have you or someone you know either already lost
or would most hate to lose? Write about this in your own style. Choose between
taking a nonfiction approach or using your own or others’ experiences as a starting
point for fiction.

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G L O S S A RY O F L I T E R A RY T E R M S

absurdism writing that reflects the idea that the universe is irrational and meaningless
allegory a literary work in which characters, objects, and events stand for abstract
qualities outside the story such as goodness, pleasure, or evil
allusion a reference to an historical or literary figure or event
analogy a description of an unfamiliar thing through comparing it to something more
well-known
anecdote a short incident or story that illustrates a point; anecdotal stories usually have
an informal storyteller’s tone
anti-hero a protagonist who displays traits opposite to the qualities usually associated
with the traditional hero
archetype an image, character, symbol, plot, or other literary device that appears
frequently enough in myths, folktales, and other literary works so as to
become an important part of a culture
characterization the manner in which an author creates and develops a character utilizing
exposition, dialogue, and action

climax the high point of a plot; sometimes coincides with the turning point
or defining moment; some stories do not have a clear climax
colloquialism a local or regional expression
concrete a universal concern (one that applies to everyone, everywhere) addressed
universal through a concrete, or local, setting
conflict the struggle between opposing forces; external conflict involves an outer force
such as nature or another character while internal conflict exists inside a
person, say between a hero’s sense of duty and desire for freedom
denouement literally “the untying;” the part of a plot in which the conflict is “untied” or
resolved; usually follows the climax
dialogue conversation between characters in a literary work
epiphany an event, sometimes mystical in nature, in which a character changes in
profound ways due to the revelation of a simple yet powerful truth; also
sometimes called a defining moment, moment of clarity, or moment of truth
exposition information or background that is directly conveyed or explained, usually by
the narrator

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fable a short story or tale that demonstrates a moral or truth; frequently contains
fantasy elements such as talking animal characters

falling action the events of a plot that follow the climax; also referred to as
the denouement or resolution
fantasy stories that contain characters, settings, and objects that could not exist, such
as dragons or magic swords; often heroic in nature and sometimes based on
myths and legends

figurative any of several techniques such as imagery, metaphor, or analogy that


language describe an object or character through comparison to something else
figure of speech an expression that conveys meaning or increases an effect, usually through
figurative language

first person see point of view


point of view

flashback an interruption of the normal chronological order of a plot to narrate events


that happened earlier
folktale a narrative, usually originating in an oral tradition, with a timeless and
placeless setting and archetypal plot elements and characters; may contain
elements of fantasy as well
foreshadowing use of hints or clues about what will happen later in a plot
frame narrator a narrator of a story in which other narrators may appear to tell stories
within the story
genre a distinctive type or category of literature, such as the epic, comedy, tragedy,
short story, novel, science fiction, or mystery
gothic a type of writing that focuses on the macabre, grotesque, mysterious, and/or
violent; Southern Gothic refers to stories that have these elements and are
set in the American South
idiom an expression that is peculiar to a group or community; often difficult to
translate
imagery vivid and striking descriptions of objects and details in a literary work, often
through figurative language
in media res literally, “in the midst of things;” refers to a type of plot that begins at a high
point of the action and fills in exposition later
interior the presentation in a literary work of the unspoken thoughts and feelings
monologue of a character
interpretation an explanation of the meaning of a piece of literature, dependent in part on
the perspective of the reader

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irony a recognition and heightening of the difference between appearance and reality;
situational irony occurs when events turn out differently than expected; dramatic
irony occurs when the audience has important knowledge that a main
character lacks
juxtaposition two or more things placed side by side, generally in an unexpected combination
local color a style of writing that developed just after the Civil War and that strives to
movement reveal the peculiarities of a particular place and the people who live there
metafiction fiction that contains within it a comment about the process of writing fiction
metaphor a figure of speech that implies a similarity between two unlike things
minimalist a spare, pared down style of writing made popular in the 1970s
morality play a play in which the characters personify moral or abstract qualities such as
Charity or Death
motivation the reasons or forces that cause characters to act as they do
mysticism the belief that knowledge of God, truth, or reality can be gained through
intuition or insight
myth a traditional story, often one that explains a belief or natural phenomenon
narrator a teller of a story; an unreliable narrator makes incorrect conclusions and
biased assumptions; a naïve narrator doesn’t fully understand the events
he or she narrates
neologism a newly coined word
oral tradition legends, folktales, and stories that were initially told orally
pathos an element of literature that evokes pity or compassion
plot the events of a story
point of view the perspective from which a story is narrated: in first person point of view the
narrator is a character in the story and uses the personal pronoun “I”; in third
person limited point of view, the narrator is outside the story but presents the
story through the thoughts and feelings of one character; in third person
omniscient point of view, the narrator is outside the story and knows the thoughts
and feelings of all characters and can comment on any part of the story
protagonist the main character of a story
realistic fiction fiction that attempts to describe the world in a realistic fashion
regionalism literature with an emphasis on locale or other local characteristics such as
dialect
repartee quick, witty exchanges of dialogue
resolution the point at which the chief conflict or complication is worked out
rising action the events leading up to the climax of a plot

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satire writing that uses humor or ridicule to point out human shortcomings and follies
scenario a plot outline; one of many ways in which a story could be worked out
setting the time and place of the action of a story
simile a comparason of one thing to another that uses “like” or “as”
stream of the flow of various impressions—visual, auditory, psychological, intuitive—that
consciousness represent the mind and heart of a character
subtext a hidden meaning, often symbolic or metaphorical, that must be inferred from
the text given
surrealism a literary and artistic movement emphasizing the expression of the
subconscious through dreamlike imagery
symbol an object that stands for or represents a more abstract concept, such as an
eagle for freedom or a rose for love
tale a series of facts or events either told or written
theme the underlying meaning or message of a literary work
third person see point of view
limited point
of view
third person see point of view
omniscient
point of view

tone the author or narrator’s attitude toward the subject of a work; an author might
have an ironic, humorous, sarcastic, serious, or deadpan tone, to name a few
universality the quality of having feelings, thoughts, emotions, themes, or problems that cross
all times and cultures
voice an author or character’s distinctive way of expressing himself or herself
world view the background, attitudes, and values of a society or individual

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