Short Stories: Characters in Conflict, Book by John Warriner (Short Stories with Conflict)

This is a 1981 anthology aimed at students, edited by John E. Warriner. There’s also a revised edition from 1996. I’ll point out the differences between the two editions. They both contain 23 short stories, all of which had to meet the following standards:

  • A student would want to read it.
  • It has to be worth reading, that is, be more than just entertaining.

There are many familiar, frequently-anthologized short stories in this book, as well as a few seldom-seen titles. Each story is followed by questions. There’s also a glossary of short story related terms. Here’s a rundown of the contents from the original Characters in Conflict (stories that appear in both editions are marked with *):

  • *“The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell: A hunter becomes the hunted when he finds himself at the mercy of General Zaroff, who’s no longer interested in the usual game.
  • *“To Build a Fire” by Jack London: A traveler walks through the frozen Yukon with only a husky as company.
  • *“The Birds” by Daphne du Maurier: A swarm of birds with bad intentions converge on an English farm house.
  • *“The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe: Montressor’s story of revenge against a man who injured and insulted him.
  • *“Antaeus” by Borden Deal: A boy from the rural South who moves to a city in the North finds a way to adjust to the change.
  • “The Bridge” by Nicolai Chukovski: An awkward, shy young Russian man is going to Siberia to work for his uncle.
  • “Enemy Territory” by William Melvin Kelley: A young boy is sent on an errand a block into the territory of Valentine’s Gang.
  • “Peter Two” by Irwin Shaw: A young teenager who likes watching heroes on TV has an unsettling experience with a neighbor.
  • *“Raymond’s Run” by Toni Cade Bambara: The fastest runner in the neighborhood has a new rival.
  • “Old Mother Hubbard” by A. B. Guthrie, Jr.: A new ranch foreman gets resistance from his men and faces the possibility of a confrontation with the recently fired foreman.
  • *“The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst: A boy tries to prepare his disabled younger brother for school by teaching him to walk and do other physical things.
  • *“Red Dress” by Alice Munro: A thirteen-year-old who’s becoming self-conscious doesn’t want to go to an upcoming school dance.
  • *“All Summer in a Day” by Ray Bradbury: School children on Venus excitedly anticipate a short break from the perpetual rain.
  • “Bad Characters” by Jean Stafford: A girl known for being a troublemaker becomes friends with an even worse influence.
  • “The Animals’ Fair” by James Gould Cozzens: John is assigned to help the new boy, Emerson, settle in, but he has a penchant for mischief.
  • “A Slander” by Anton Chekhov: A schoolmaster is upset when a false rumor about him spreads.
  • *“The Lady or the Tiger?” by Frank R. Stockton: A semi-barbaric king has an unusual way of putting the accused on trial.
  • *“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber: An ineffective and put-upon man escapes into daydreams.
  • *“Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut: An exceptional boy rebels against a society where everyone is equal in every way.
  • “The Fatalist” by Isaac Bashevis Singer: A fatalist believes he will marry the most sought after woman in town.
  • “A Sunrise on the Veld” by Doris Lessing: A confident fifteen-year-old boy learns a lesson while out hunting.
  • “The Boscombe Valley Mystery” by Arthur Conan Doyle: A man is murdered by an outdoor pool, and his estranged son is the primary suspect.
  • *“By the Waters of Babylon” by Stephen Vincent Benét: A young man in a post-apocalyptic society sets out for a forbidden place.

The revised 1996 Characters in Conflict omits the stories above without an asterisk but includes the following:

  • “The Challenge” by Gary Soto: To get the attention of Estella, the new girl at school, José claims to be a good racquetball player.
  • “Rules of the Game” by Amy Tan: A young chess prodigy learns about the game and life.
  • “Games at Twilight” by Anita Desai: In a game of hide-and-seek, a young boy gets his big chance when he finds the perfect hiding place.
  • “With All Flags Flying” by Anne Tyler: When an old man becomes too weak to live on his own, his family has plans for him—and he has other plans.
  • “The Son From America” by Isaac Bashevis Singer: A prosperous son returns to his home village intent on improving his parents’ lives.
  • “The Rain Came” by Grace Ogot: To end a drought, Oganda, the chief’s daughter, is called on to make a sacrifice.
  • “A Warrior’s Daughter” by Zitkala-Sa: When her intended is captured by an enemy tribe, Tusee takes action herself.
  • “Once Upon a Time” by Nadine Gordimer: A couple concerned about their family’s safety continue to improve their home’s defenses.
  • “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” by Arthur Conan Doyle: Helen’s twin sister died two years earlier and now she fears for her own life.
  • “User Friendly” by T. Ernesto Bethancourt: Kevin’s computer, Louis, starts interacting with him in a surprising way.

If you’re looking for short stories with conflict, this is an excellent anthology.