Short Stories About Humility and Pride

Stories About Pride and Humility
Stories About Pride and Humility

These stories have characters who have an inflated view of themselves in some way. Sometimes the character has a realization and learns humility. In any case, their pride or vanity is tested or revealed.

Stories About Pride & Humility

The Viaduct | Brian Lumley

Two boys, John and David, are walking along the beach on a warm spring day. They head for the viaduct. On the way, they have an encounter with Wiley Smiley, the village idiot. The boys bother him before going on their way. When they reach the viaduct, they remember something they were going to do.

“The Viaduct” can be read in the Amazon preview of The Mammoth Book of Nightmare Stories: Twisted Tales Not to be Read at Night.

“The Man of Adamant” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Richard Digby is a gloomy and intolerant man, with a pessimistic view of his fellows. He believes his personal philosophy is the true faith, so he decides to isolate himself. He sets out into the forest with some tools and his Bible. After walking three days, he comes upon a well-concealed cave. Digby is sure that he will be at peace here, away from the sins of others. (Summary)

Read “The Man of Adamant”

“The Literary Life of Laban Goldman” by Bernard Malamud

Laban Goldman takes night school classes. He’s proud that another one of his letters has been printed in the paper, and can’t wait to read it to the class. His wife wants to go out some evenings, but Laban won’t miss his classes.

This story can be read in the preview of The Complete Stories(72% in)

“Why Reeds Are Hollow” by Gabriela Mistral

The reeds started a revolution in the plant world—all plants should be the same height. A few objections are ignored and the wind carries the message everywhere. (Summary)

“The Moustache” by Robert Cormier

Mike, seventeen-years-old, is going to Lawnrest Nursing Home to visit his grandmother. She has a chronic circulatory disease and a fading memory. He isn’t eager to make the visit, uncertain if his grandmother will be having one of her bad days. (Summary & Analysis)

“The Moustache”

“To Build a Fire” by Jack London

In the Yukon, a man is traveling on foot with a husky in the wilderness to meet some acquaintances. It’s –75 degrees and even though he’s careful, he breaks through some ice and soaks his boots, necessitating a fire.

Read “To Build a Fire” (Includes Summary & Analysis)

“A Late Encounter with the Enemy” by Flannery O’Connor

General George Poker Sash is a 104-year-old American Civil War veteran. He gets invited to attend some events because of his age and veteran status. His granddaughter, 62-year-old Sally Poker Sash, prays that he will live to attend her college graduation so everyone will see she has a superior background. (Summary)

“The Spectacles” by Edgar Allan Poe

The narrator has a story he claims will support the idea of love at first sight. He has weak eyes, but being young and good-looking, doesn’t want to wear glasses. Last winter, he and a friend went to the opera. In one of the private boxes was the most exquisite woman he had ever seen. His companion, Talbot, knows the woman and says he’ll arrange a meeting. (Summary)

Read “The Spectacles”

Short Stories About Pride and Humility, Cont’d

“The Second Hut” by Doris Lessing

Carruthers is a struggling farmer with a sick wife. Between all the work he has to oversee and caring for his wife, he has to hire an assistant. He can’t pay much, but there’s unemployment, so he finds an Afrikaner, Van Heerden, who accepts the position. (Summary)

“The Royal Game” (“Chess Story”) by Stefan Zweig (Novella)

Two friends are sailing from New York to Buenos Aires. Among the passengers is Mirko Czentovik, the world chess champion. His only ability lies in chess; he’s intellectually stunted in every other area. Czentovik is proud of his chess powers. He limits his conversation to avoid saying anything stupid. One of the men wants to talk to him during the voyage but can’t find an opportunity. He finds another man, McConnor, to play chess with. When Czentovik’s presence is brought to McConnor’s attention, he wants to play a game with the champion.

Barcelona | Alice Adams

An American couple in Barcelona is out on the street when a man snatches the wife’s purse. Her husband pursues the thief.

The Three Hermits | Leo Tolstoy

A bishop hears about three hermits who live on an unnamed island and devote themselves to serving God. He arranges to visit them to teach them the right way to pray.

Read “The Three Hermits”

“Walker Brothers Cowboy” by Alice Munro

After going bankrupt, the Jordan family moves to the poor side of town. One day the narrator, a young girl, goes with her father, now a door to door salesman, on some of his sales calls.

Dominoes | Jack Agueros

In Spanish Harlem, four men play dominoes on the sidewalk as they often do. They attach a great deal of importance to the game.

The King of Jazz | Donald Barthelme

The great Jazz musician Spicy MacLammermoor has died. Hokie Mokie now believes he is the King of Jazz. His playing is much admired and everyone acknowledges his supremacy, except Hideo Yamaguchi, a trombone player.

Read “The King of Jazz”

Short Stories About Pride and Humility, Cont’d

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.

Neighbour Rosicky | Willa Cather

Anton Rosicky is a sixty-five-year old Nebraska farmer. He is told by his doctor that he has to stop doing heavy farm labor. Anton reflects on his life of hard work and his family.

Read “Neighbour Rosicky”

The Sky is Gray | Ernest Gaines

James is an eight-year-old black boy in the 1930’s South. He has a bad toothache but didn’t tell his mother about it, not wanting to be a crybaby and knowing they can’t afford to have it pulled. After trying aspirin and a prayer cure without success, his mother discovers the problem.

The Assault on the Record | Stephen Hoffius

A fifteen-year-old boy decides he wants to set a world record. He and a group of friends plan to run a one hundred-mile relay.

Everything That Rises Must Converge | Flannery O’Connor

Julian, a young man, accompanies his mother on a bus ride. It is the 1960’s South, and she doesn’t like riding alone because of integration. She is poor but is proud that she comes from a once prosperous pre-Civil War family. She also brags about her son to those nearby.

The Old Bird: A Love Story | J. F. Powers

Charles Newman is an older man looking for work. He takes a job as a mail clerk even though he had previously been a white-collar worker. He adjusts to his boss and the work.

Short Stories About Pride and Humility, Cont’d

The Man Who Was Almost a Man | Richard Wright

Dave Saunders, a plantation worker, is annoyed that he’s treated like a boy. He thinks that he would be a man if he could buy a gun, so he goes to the local general store.

Read “The Man Who Was Almost A Man”

The Scarlet Ibis | James Hurst

The narrator, Brother, reminisces about the time a rare bird landed in his family’s garden, and about his brother, Doodle, who was physically disabled and mentally challenged.

The Coffin-Maker | Alexander Pushkin

Adrian Prokhoroff attends an anniversary party where there is a lot of drinking. The men poke some fun at his profession of coffin making, which wounds his pride.

The Turkey | Flannery O’Connor

Ruller, a young boy, is playing outside when he catches sight of a wild turkey in the bushes. He starts fantasizing about how impressed everyone would be if he caught it. He sees the turkey is injured and decides to go after it.

I’ll keep adding short stories about humility and pride as I find more.