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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Confession | Guy De Maupassant
A woman makes a death-bed confession to her older sister about something that happened over 40 years ago.
The Hidden Woman | Colette
A husband and wife talk about the possibility of going to a costume ball where licentious behavior is common. The man says he has to make an out-of-town call on a patient; the woman demurs because of all the strangers there who could touch her.
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.
The Tarn | Hugh Walpole
Foster has visited Fenwick to “put things right”—he heard Fenwick had some kind of grudge against him. Fenwick hates Foster but assures him everything is fine. Making conversation with him increases his irritation until he has to act.
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.