Next Door by Tobias Wolff

In Next Door by Tobias Wolff we have the theme of fear, conflict, violence, peace and harmony. Taken from his In The Garden of The North American Martyrs and Other Stories collection the story is narrated in the first person by an unnamed narrator and from the beginning of the story the reader realises that Wolff may be exploring the […]

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The Boarded Window by Ambrose Bierce

In The Boarded Window by Ambrose Bierce we have the theme of isolation, loneliness, hope, grief, failure and guilt. Taken from his The Complete Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and from the setting of the story the reader realises that Bierce may be exploring the theme of isolation. Murlock is […]

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The Drunkard by Frank O’Connor

In The Drunkard by Frank O’Connor we have the theme of apprehension, fear, pride, gossip, control, temptation, curiosity, helplessness, alcoholism and trust. Taken from his Collected Stories collection the story is narrated in the first person by a young boy called Larry Delaney and after reading the story the reader realises that O’Connor may be exploring the theme of apprehension […]

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First Confession by Frank O’Connor

In First Confession by Frank O’Connor we have the theme of conflict, appearance, division, connection, fear, innocence and honesty. Taken from his Collected Stories collection the story is a memory piece and is narrated in the first person by a man called Jackie. What is interesting about the beginning of the story is that O’Connor may be exploring the theme […]

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The Man of the House by Frank O’Connor

In The Man of the House by Frank O’Connor we have the theme of innocence, temptation, guilt, responsibility, control, resilience, redemption and acceptance. Taken from his Collected Stories collection the story is narrated in the first person by a man called Gus Sullivan who is looking back at an incident in his life when he was ten years old. It is […]

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A Summer’s Reading by Bernard Malamud

In A Summer’s Reading by Bernard Malamud we have the theme of appearance, change, loneliness, escape, fear, paralysis, compassion and connection. Taken from his The Complete Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Malamud may be exploring the theme of appearance. George likes the […]

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Oil of Dog by Ambrose Bierce

In Oil of Dog by Ambrose Bierce we have the theme of greed, corruption, responsibility, unity and isolation. Taken from his The Complete Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the first person by a man called Boffer Bings and after reading the story the reader realises that Bierce may be exploring the theme of greed and corruption. Both […]

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Why I Live at the P.O. by Eudora Welty

In Why I Live at the P.O. by Eudora Welty we have the theme of jealousy, conflict, independence, escape, isolation and honesty. Taken from her A Curtain of Green and Other Stories collection the story is narrated in the first person by a young unnamed woman and from the beginning of the story Welty appears to be exploring the theme of […]

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I Bought a Little City by Donald Barthelme

In I Bought a Little City by Donald Barthelme we have the theme of aspiration, independence, freedom, control and reality. Taken from his Amateurs collection the story is narrated in the first person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Barthelme may be exploring the theme of control. Throughout the story there is a sense […]

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The Lie by Raymond Carver

In The Lie by Raymond Carver we have the theme of conflict, confusion, uncertainty, honesty, trust and control. Taken from his Fires collection the story is narrated in the first person by an unnamed male narrator and from the beginning of the story the reader realises that Carver may be exploring the theme of conflict. There is a sense that […]

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A Wagner Matinee by Willa Cather

In A Wagner Matinee by Willa Cather we have the theme of hardship, struggle, isolation, loss, gratitude and connection. Taken from her The Troll Garden collection the story is narrated in the first person by a young man called Clark and after reading the story the reader realises that Cather may be exploring the theme of hardship. Throughout the story […]

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Boxes by Raymond Carver

In Boxes by Raymond Carver we have the theme of connection, worry, powerlessness, mortality and apprehension. Taken from his Elephant and Other Stories collection the story is narrated in the first person by an unnamed narrator and tells the story of the narrator’s mother moving back to California from Longview, Washington. The setting of the story may also be important particularly the name […]

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Dreams by Raymond Carver

In Dreams by Raymond Carver we have the theme of identity, ignorance, awareness, paralysis, love and loss. Taken from his Call If You Need Me collection the story is narrated in the first person by an unnamed narrator and it may be significant that the narrator is unnamed as Carver may be playing on the idea of identity. It may also be important that Mary Rice […]

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The Prison by Bernard Malamud

In The Prison by Bernard Malamud we have the theme of freedom, regret, connection, helplessness, control, escape, paralysis and hope. Taken from his The Complete Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Malamud may be exploring the theme of freedom. Throughout the story there […]

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Vandals by Raymond Carver

In Vandals by Raymond Carver we have the theme of friendship, loyalty, responsibility, acceptance, letting go and paralysis. Taken from his Call If You Need Me collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Carver may be exploring the theme or idea of friendship, what friendship may mean and what constitutes a […]

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Kindling by Raymond Carver

In Kindling by Raymond Carver we have the theme of alcoholism, belief, revival, discovery, recovery and change. Taken from his Call If You Need Me collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and some readers may recognize the main character Myers from two other Carver short stories (Put Yourself in My Shoes and The Compartment). If Carver is indeed referencing […]

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Reunion by John Cheever

In Reunion by John Cheever we have the theme of disappointment, connection, identity, separation, regret and alcoholism. Taken from his Collected Stories collection the story is narrated in the first person by a young man called Charlie and after reading the story the reader realises that Cheever may be exploring the theme of disappointment. Throughout the story Charlie at no stage […]

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Everyday Use by Alice Walker

In Everyday Use by Alice Walker we have the theme of heritage, tradition, honesty, selfishness, identity and appearance. Taken from her In Love & Trouble collection the story is narrated in the first person by a woman called Mrs Johnson and after reading the story the reader realises that Walker may be exploring the theme of heritage. Throughout the story […]

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Call If You Need Me by Raymond Carver

In Call If You Need Me by Raymond Carver we have the theme of separation, infidelity, connection, trust, acceptance, letting go and moving on. Taken from his collection of the same name the story is narrated in the first person by a middle aged man called Dan and very early on the reader realises that Dan’s marriage to Nancy is in trouble with both […]

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Game by Donald Barthelme

In Game by Donald Barthelme we have the theme of isolation, hostility, trust, freedom, paralysis, doubt and connection. Taken from his Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts collection the story is narrated in the first person by an unnamed narrator and from the beginning of the story the reader realises that Barthelme may be exploring the theme of isolation. Shotwell is not prepared […]

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The School by Donald Barthelme

In The School by Donald Barthelme we have the theme of uncertainty, innocence, mortality, fear, curiosity and reassurance. Taken from his Amateurs collection the story is narrated in the first person by a teacher called Edgar and after reading the story the reader realises that Barthelme may be exploring the theme of uncertainty and curiosity. Throughout the story Edgar remains […]

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A City of Churches by Donald Barthelme

In A City of Churches by Donald Barthelme we have the theme of acceptance, conformity, reliance, religion, paralysis and independence. Taken from his Sadness collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Barthelme may be exploring the theme of acceptance and conformity. None of the characters […]

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Goodbye, My Brother by John Cheever

In Goodbye, My Brother by John Cheever we have the theme of paralysis, separation, letting go, change, acceptance and denial. Taken from his Collected Stories collection the story is narrated in the first person by a thirty something year old man (whose surname is Pommeroy) and after reading the story the reader realises that he may not be a reliable narrator. Throughout the […]

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Separating by John Updike

In Separating by John Updike we have the theme of struggle, confusion, conflict, acceptance and separation. Taken from his The Early Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and from the beginning of the story the reader realises that Updike may be exploring not only the theme of separation but the theme of conflict […]

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The First Seven Years by Bernard Malamud

In The First Seven Years by Bernard Malamud we have the theme of desire, love, insecurity, conflict, independence, appearance and change. Taken from his The Complete Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Malamud may be exploring the theme of desire and insecurity. Feld […]

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