This page will contain stories where characters betray ideals, values and other people.
See also Affairs
See also Loyalty
See also Deception
These stories might interest an avid reader, or might be suitable short stories for middle school kids.
The Chrysanthemums | John Steinbeck
Elisa is in the garden working on her chrysanthemums when a traveler pulls in looking for work. They develop a rapport and she pays him to do a little job. He expresses interest in her flowers and she prepares a pot with some seeds for him.
Africans | Sheila Kohler
The narrator tells the story of she and her sister, Mkatie, growing up, going to boarding school, and her sister’s eventual engagement. Along the way, the family’s servant, John – a Zulu, a people known for their loyalty – is an important part of their lives. When Mkatie gets married, John moves in with her and her husband.
Gorilla, My Love | Toni Cade Bambara
The young narrator tells us that Hunca Bubba (Uncle Bubba) is going to start using his proper name. He has met a woman and is going to marry her. The narrator remembers a time when the kids in the family went to see a movie called Gorilla, My Love; they were disappointed when the theatre showed something else instead.
The Difference | Ellen Glasgow
Margaret Fleming receives a letter from a woman, Rose, who says she is in love with Margaret’s husband, George, and that George loves her, too. A friend of Margaret’s, Dorothy, comes over and they have a debate about philandering husbands and love.
Flowering Judas | Katherine Anne Porter
Laura, an American, is in Mexico City after the Mexican Revolution working for the revolutionary cause and its leader, the socialist Braggioni. Braggioni indulges himself and tries to seduce Laura. Her religious and revolutionary ideals are tested.
In the Garden of the North American Martyrs | Tobias Wolff
Mary, a history professor of fifteen years, loses her job when her college closes. She gets an offer from a former colleague, Louise, to interview at a college in New York. Mary accepts the offer, but finds Louise’s behavior to be unprofessional.
Mateo Falcone | Prosper Merimee
It is seventeenth century Corsica in a dangerous region. Fortunato, a ten-year-old boy, is outside alone when he hears gunshots and a wounded man appears. He knows Fortunato’s father and asks for help to hide from pursuing soldiers.
Naming the Names | Anne Devlin
The narrator, Finn, is Catholic, lives in Ireland, and works at a used book store. She had met a young Protestant man at the book store, and they began a love affair despite them both having other attachments. There are sectarian conflicts in the city between Catholics and Protestants. Finn arranges to meet the Protestant man in the park.
The Other Woman | Sherwood Anderson
A man tells a story to an acquaintance about the events during the week before he married. He became fixated on a woman who ran the newspaper stand that he frequented.
The Cloak | Isak Dinesen
A master sculptor, Leonidas Allori, is arrested for rebellion and high treason. His pupils are devastated, except for one, his favorite, Angelo. He is preoccupied with his master’s wife, Lucrezia.
The Memory Priest of the Creech People | Paul Theroux
The Creech choose one person to be Memory Priest—a man who remembers all the names and dates of the people, and entertains and informs them with their lore.
This legend seems like it could be an allegory or parable, but I haven’t been able to figure out what it represents.
Strip Battleship | Amy Knox Brown
Michael goes to Miller’s store to buy a wedding present for his pledge father, Tom. Tom’s fiance, Ann, works there, but it is her day off. It turns out Ann is filling in for someone. It is revealed that Michael has been snubbed by Tom – he and his fraternity brothers have gone to a stag party in Kansas City. Michael thinks about what might have happened between them. He and Ann make plans to get a drink.
The Dowry | Guy de Maupassant
Simon and Jeanne are newly married. Simon plans to use Jeanne’s large dowry to buy a legal practice. They take a trip to Paris to enjoy each others company and to make the purchase.
Vengeful Creditor | Chinua Achebe
The African government is now offering free primary education, causing a lot of servants and lowly paid workers to return to school. The Emenikes, educated and affluent, are upset when they lose some servants, including their nurse. Things turn around for them when the government suspends the free program due to higher than expected enrollment.
I will try to add more stories about betrayal that could be helpful for teaching reading and reading comprehension to middle and high school students. Eventually, I hope these pages will become a teaching resource.