Short Stories About Women

Here you can find a short story that deals with the way women are viewed by others, the expectations others have of them, how they balance their responsibilities, how they try to lead fulfilling lives, and what their options are in some cases.

See also Feminism

See also Katherine Mansfield

Mrs. Dutta Writes a Letter | Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Mrs. Dutta, an elderly, Indian widow, moves to her son’s home in America. She adjusts to American customs different from what she’s used to. A friend from Indian wrote her a letter, asking if she’s happy in America. Mrs. Dutta thinks about how to respond.

Read “Mrs. Dutta Writes a Letter”

Three Thanksgivings | Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Mrs. Morrison is a fifty-year-old widow in a difficult financial situation. Her children want her to sell her house, while Mr. Butts, who holds the mortgage on her house, wants her to marry him. She tries to come up with a way to live independently.

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Be Fruitful and Multiply | Madeleine Ferron

A girl marries young and has one child after another.

Babette’s Feast | Isak Dinesen

Two aging sisters keep their late father’s church going and minister to the poor in a town in Norway. At the request of an old beau, they take in Babette Hersant as a maid after she flees Paris.

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Anyuta | Anton Chekhov

Anyuta lives in a cheap hotel room with a medical student, Klotchkov. She’s lived with several men like him; they all leave her behind when they move on to a better life.

Read “Anyuta”

A Pair of Silk Stockings | Kate Chopin

Mrs. Sommers, a great bargain hunter and responsible mother and wife, finds herself with a little extra money. She thinks of all the practical things she could do with it, but gets distracted when she examines a fine pair of silk stockings.

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A Country Love Story | Jean Stafford

Daniel, a professor who has just spent time recuperating in a sanitarium, moves with his younger wife, May, to a place in the country. A distance develops between them with Daniel working on some research and May turning to fantasy to get her through the days.

A Respectable Woman | Kate Chopin

Mrs. Baroda’s husband tells her that his friend, Gouvernail, is going to stay with them for a while. She was looking forward to some quiet time after doing a lot of entertaining. Her husband thinks very highly of Gouvernail, but she isn’t impressed with him.

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Death in the Woods | Sherwood Anderson

The narrator tells the story of Mrs. Grimes based on what he’s heard and his imaginings. She married her husband, a known thief, to escape a bad situation as a servant. One day she goes to town to trade eggs for some supplies.

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Women in their Beds | Gina Berriault

Angela Anson, an aspiring actress, works in a hospital telling elderly and infirm women where they will be sent next. She feels the women in her ward represent all women in a way, and isn’t sure if she can take the job.

Big Blonde | Dorothy Parker

Hazel Morse had been a model and is popular with men. She marries when she’s almost thirty. She becomes melancholy and starts drinking. As her marriage deteriorates she starts keeping company with a new group of people.

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Life | Bessie Head

A woman, Life, has to return to her Botswana village. The neighbor women welcome and help her until they learn she’s a prostitute. Life meets a wealthy cattleman, Lesego, and they take an instant liking to each other.

The Revolt of ‘Mother’ | Mary Wilkins Freeman

Adoniram Penn is building a new barn on the spot where he had promised his wife, Sarah, that he would build the family a new house. She confronts him about it but he won’t speak of it. She sees an opportunity to assert herself, and takes it.

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In the Middle of the Fields | Mary Lavin

An unnamed, recently widowed woman lives in Ireland on her farm. The grass on her farm needs trimming, so Ned, an old farm hand, suggests hiring a neighbor, Mr. Crossen, to do the job.

Meeting Mrinal | Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Asha had an arranged marriage to Mahesh in India. They moved to California, but Mahesh left her for a younger white woman. Asha gets a call from an old friend, Mrinal, a career woman in town for a conference. Mrinal wants to get together.

On Discovery | Maxine Hong Kingston

A Chinese explorer, Tang Ao, discovers The Land of Women. He is captured and forced to undergo a grooming process so he can meet the Queen.

On Discovery is an allegory of Chinese immigrants’ experiences in America and of the treatment of Chinese women, or women in general.

Read “On Discovery”

Immigration Blues | Bienvenido N. Santos

In San Francisco, two Filipino women go to the home of Alipio Palma, a Filipino widower. One of the women, Mrs. Zafra, is the wife of an old friend of Alipio. While having lunch together, she tells the story of how she was able to stay in America by marrying her husband, an American citizen.

A Spinster’s Tale | Peter Taylor

The narrator, Elizabeth, grew up in an all male household. Looking back, she relates some interactions with her father, her brother, and Mr. Speed. Her brother drank too much, and Mr. Speed was a repulsive drunk.

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Customs | Julia Alvarez

Yolanda visits her uncle in Central America. She lives in the United States and is surprised by the unenlightened attitudes of the men she is visiting.

Eating Bone | Shabnam Nadiya

Disha leaves her home after hearing a new taunt from her husband. While she thinks about her life, she catches the aroma of roasting chicken.

Read “Eating Bone”

The Waltz | Dorothy Parker

A woman agrees to dance with a man even though she doesn’t want to. Although she is annoyed with his clumsiness, she is extremely tactful.

Read “The Waltz”

The Lottery | Marjorie Barnard

Ted Bilborough is on his way home from work when he finds out his wife won a lottery. His acquaintances tease him a bit and ask what he will do with the money. He thinks about that as well, and also wonders where she got the money for the ticket.

Read “The Lottery”