Short Stories About Perception and Perspective

These stories will show characters perceiving the same events differently, perceiving others in a particular way, relating things from their own perspective or things that the reader perceives differently, or changing perspective as they learn more or mature.

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Fat and Thin | Anton Chekhov

Two men—schoolmates as boys—meet unexpectedly at a train station and are delighted to see each other. They talk about their lives; one bit of information changes the thin man’s view of his old friend.

“Fat and Thin (Skinny)” is the second story in the Amazon preview of Fifty-Two Stories.

Snow | Ann Beattie

A woman remembers the time she was with her lover in the country. She realizes that he interpreted the same events differently.

The Requiem (Panikhida) | Anton Chekhov

After a church service, Andrei Andreich, a shopkeeper, is accosted by Father Grigory. Andreich’s daughter has recently died, and the priest is upset over the way Andreich described her in his commemoration.

This story can be read in the preview of Stories of Anton Chekhov.

Haircut | Ring Lardner

A barber talks about the local practical joker after he was recently killed.

This is the fourth story in the preview of 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories.

Night Club | Katharine Brush

A maid in a night club attends to the women’s washroom, helping the customers and getting a glimpse of their lives.

Read “Night Club”

Sex Education | Dorothy Canfield

Aunt Minnie tells a story of something frightening that happened in her youth. She tells it three times, spaced several years apart, with a changing perspective on what happened.

Read here

A Woman on a Roof | Doris Lessing

During a heat wave, a young woman suns herself on the top of a building. On a nearby roof top, three men are working. They all have different reactions to her.

Read “A Woman on a Roof”

The Hitchhiking Game | Milan Kundera

A young couple is driving together on the first day of their vacation. The woman is shy and “pure”, while the man is confident with women and has had many casual relationships. When she gets back in the car after a stop, they start to role play a hitchhiker game. It opens her up, changing her boyfriend’s view of her.

Read here

Bread | Margaret Atwood

The narrator tells the reader to imagine a piece of bread in a few vastly different situations.

Read “Bread”

20/20 | Linda Brewer

Bill and Ruthie are on a road trip. Bill finds her conversation simplistic; she refuses to argue anything.

Read “20/20”

Ghost Boy | Elinor Nash

Jake is a young teenager who is focused on the sounds in his home. He perceives his mother, father, and sister in an unusual way. He suffered a bike accident which has affected him a great deal.

Read “Ghost Boy”

Invitations | Carol Shields

On Monday the narrator receives an invitation to an art exhibition. She is pleased and thinks about what she will wear. On Tuesday she receives an invitation to a cocktail party for the same evening.

The Stone Boy | Gina Berriault

Early one morning, nine-year-old Arnold goes out with his fifteen-year-old brother Eugie to pick peas. Arnold takes his gun with him to shoot ducks. As he passes through a fence, his gun gets stuck; he jerks it free, causing it to go off.

Read “The Stone Boy”

A Dill Pickle | Katherine Mansfield

After six years a woman and man meet again in a cafe. He talks about his life away from her and of shared experiences. She compares his recollections with her own. They fall into their old pattern.

Read “A Dill Pickle”

Moving Pictures | Charles Johnson

A man is in a movie theater waiting for the show to start. He thinks about the power of movies, and the status of filmmakers compared to novelists. We learn of the man’s background, including a failed marriage and financial issues.

The Worm in the Apple | John Cheever

The narrator tells us about the Crutchmans, a family that is very happy and moderate in all their habits. The narrator believes they can’t be as happy as they seem; surely there is a worm in the apple. We are given the history of Larry, Helen, and their two children in the hope of finding their hidden pain.

Read “The Worm in the Apple” (Pg 217)

The Amish Farmer | Vance Bourjaily

Vance is a writing teacher at a university. He tells his class a story, the point of which is to show the importance of point of view. Ten years ago, his friend Noel called, saying someone had just tried to kill him. Noel and his wife, Dawn, lived on an Amish farm. There was an attraction between Dawn and their Amish landlord, Daniel.

No One’s a Mystery | Elizabeth Tallent

The narrator, an eighteen-year-old woman, is riding in a pickup truck with Jack, a married man. When he sees his wife’s car in the distance, he pushes her down out of sight. They talk about the future of their relationship. They have a different take on where it will go.

Read “No One’s a Mystery”

Love Letters | Patricia Zelver

Emily’s daughter, Rebecca, turns fifteen. Her aunt sends a card saying she’ll send along her mother’s old love letters. Emily doesn’t remember the letters. Her husband is a Social Scientist and her grown sons are moving to a commune.

Roog | Philip K. Dick

Early in the morning, a dog watches the activity around his house. He sees a “roog” approaching the gate. The dog tries to defend its home and warn those inside. The owners, the Cardossis, don’t respond to his warning.

Read “Roog”

The Demon Lover | Elizabeth Bowen

Mrs. Drover goes to her shut-up house to get some things. It has been abandoned because of WWII. It’s dusty and cracked from the bombings. She’s surprised to see a letter for her on the hall table. She takes it upstairs to read.

Read “The Demon Lover”