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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.