Short Stories About Jealousy or Envy

These stories have characters who are worried about losing something or someone, or characters who have a strong desire for what someone else has.

The first group is classed as jealousy and the second as envy. I realize the words are often used interchangeably and there is some overlap in their meanings, but I’ve divided them more strictly based on the above descriptions.

See also Rivalry

Jealousy:

Stones in My Passway, Hellhound on My Trail | T. C. Boyle

An accomplished blues musician, Robert, is playing in a club. There is a flashback to his youth when he saw a poisoned dog die. Between sets he spends time with Beatrice; another woman, Ida, looks at him intently.

A Funeral | August Strindberg

Some men sitting in a tavern discuss the funeral procession going on outside. A clerk has died. He labored for his mother and sisters. When he told them he was getting married, they made things difficult for him.

Read “A Funeral”

The Shawl | Cynthia Ozick

Rosa is on a death march to a concentration camp with her niece, Stella, and her baby daughter, Magda, who she keeps hidden under a shawl.

Read “The Shawl”

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.

The Golden Honeymoon | Ring Lardner

The Frost’s travel to Tampa to celebrate their 50th anniversary. They gently spar with each other about a few things. When they arrive, they have a chance meeting with someone from their past.

Read “The Golden Honeymoon”

The Daffodil Sky | H. E. Bates

A man returns to a town after many years away. He’s looking for Cora Whitehead, a woman he used to see. We hear the story of their relationship and of a decision he made that changed everything irrevocably.

Read “The Daffodil Sky” (Page 222, about halfway down)

Martyrdom | Yukio Mishima

In a Japanese boarding school, a boy, nicknamed the “Demon King”, is the leader of a clique. An outsider, Watari, steals a book of his, leading to a confrontation between the two. It causes a change in their relationship.

Here We Are | Dorothy Parker

A newly-married couple is riding a train. They talk about their wedding and what they’re going to do. Everything that comes up leads them into a petty disagreement.

Read “Here We Are”

Double Game | Alberto Moravia

Umberto and Peppe have been friends a long time. Peppe feels inferior as Umberto has many abilities. They are both attracted to Clara.

A Telephone Call | Dorothy Parker

A woman frets over a late phone call and wonders if she should call him instead.

Read “A Telephone Call”

The Girls in Their Summer Dresses | Irwin Shaw

Michael and Frances are a married couple walking in Manhattan. Frances notices that Michael looks at a lot of women as they walk. She points it out to him and they talk about it.

Read “The Girls in Their Summer Dresses”

The Confession | Guy De Maupassant

A woman makes a death-bed confession to her older sister about something that happened over 40 years ago.

Read “The Confession”

That in Aleppo Once… | Vladimir Nabokov

The narrator writes a letter to his Russian friend working as a novelist in America. He chronicles his failed marriage, including a separation that occurs during a train trip and his jealousy.

Read “That in Aleppo Once…”

Envy

The Richest Man | Ha Jin

Li Wan, a doctor, is the richest man in town. He is a miser and widely disliked. During China’s Cultural Revolution he is accused of destroying a likeness of Chairman Mao. His fortunes change.

All Summer in a Day | Ray Bradbury

Humans are living on Venus. The children are eagerly awaiting an event that scientists have confirmed: it will stop raining for two hours, the only break from rain in seven years. The kids speculate about what the sun is like. One student remembers the sun from earth, but the others don’t believe her.

Read “All Summer in a Day”