Short stories you can sink your teeth into
There are countless fine American stories, but these are probably the most read, talked about, influential and alluded to in American Culture. Discussion questions/topics are listed beneath each story.
- For each story you’ll be finding one work of art (this means photography, painting, sculpture, film, etc.) as well as a piece of poetry or lyrics ( to create a short story portfolio that can be added to over time as we read the stories. When you choose particular pieces, be aware that you will need to justify and explain your choices in writing; for every pair (art/poem) you shall produce a one page explanation or why the pieces you have chosen are appropriate and explicitly stating the connection between the works. The art and poetry must be works with titles and artists/authors/creators that you can name. The portfolio will be non-digital. Advice = get yourself a small binder or something like it that you can add to.
- You are graded on three things: the completeness of your journal (10 pts.), and the portfolio (40 pts.).
Stories and discussion questions. This is a journal based activity. For each response you must answer in complete sentences, provide solid text evidence (that means quotes) and with your commentary. Number and label the sections of your responses.
“Orientation” (link) by Daniel Orozco (1990’s)
- Speculate as to Orozco’s motivation for writing this story.
- Discuss how Orozco characterizes the speaker using examples of what he (or she) says and the way he (or she) says it.
- Is this a comic story? Defend your answer.
“The Cask of Amontillado” by E. A. Poe (1850’s)
- Symbolism in language and names. What can be seen?
- Setting (time, location). Discuss the effect the settings (and how they shift) has on the story.
- Credibility. Is the narrator reliable/trustworthy? Is he at all likable?
- Humor. How does subtle humor affect the story?
- Characterization. Comment on Poe’s characterization of both the villain (Montresor) and victim (Fortunato)
CASK : VIDEO (dramatic reading)
“The Lady, or the Tiger” by Frank Stockton (1900’s)
- Issues. The princess makes a choice. What is her dilemma?
- Mystery. Is there any evidence in the text to suggest the final outcome?
- Human nature. What would either of her (princess) choices suggest about human nature?
- Tradition. How could this story be considered the antithesis of a fairy tale?
- Setting. Why does Stockton choose the archaic (old time) setting?
- Theme. Isolate and describe a possible theme present in the story
“The Most Dangerous Game” (link) by Richard Connell (1930’s)
- Title: What is the significance of the title?
- Irony: Discuss how is irony present in the story.
- Suspense: Explain how Connell builds suspense as the story progresses
- Whitney: Speculate on the purpose and significance of this character.
- Zaroff: Contrast his villainous and non-villanous qualities.
- Rainsford: By the story’e end, is he a changed man, or is he more the same than ever?
- Theme: Isolate and describe a possible theme (big idea, large concept) present in the story.
“The Lottery” (link) by Shirley Jackson (1950’s)
Costa’s levels of inquiry. Construct four from each level.
“Where are you going? Where have you been?” (link) by Joyce Carol Oates (1960’s)
Costa’s levels. Construct two from L2 and two from L3
SOME POETRY SOURCES: