Short Stories with Deep Meaning

Short Stories with Deep Meaning
Short Stories with Deep Meaning

Here are some short stories with deep meaning. Well, I can’t guarantee that. What’s deeply meaningful to one will be clichéd or obvious to another. But here are some short stories that some people have found meaningful. I hope there’s something here that resonates with you. Let the meaning begin!

Short Stories with Deep Meaning

“The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin

The citizens of Omelas are happy, but the narrator is vague as to what exactly they have which makes them so. However, the people’s happiness depends on one thing, which all the citizens are aware of.

This is the third story in the preview of The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story.

“The Egg” by Andy Weir

You’re killed in a car accident on your way home. You’re concerned about the family you’re leaving behind, which the narrator tells you is what he likes to see. It turns out you’re going to be reincarnated. (Summary & Analysis)

Read “The Egg”

“Button, Button” by Richard Matheson

A hand addressed package is left at the door of Arthur and Norma Lewis. Inside is a contraption with a button on it, and a note saying that Mr. Steward will call on them at 8 PM. He arrives at the appointed time and makes them a startling proposition.

This is the first story in the preview of The Box: Uncanny Stories.

“A Grain of Mustard Seed” by Ellis Peters

When they lived in Lahore, the narrator’s father, a Hindu, had a Muslim friend, Mahdar, who was a struggling shoemaker. Her father gave him some business and recommended him to others, which allowed him to get out of debt and save some money. Her father believed in God, and believed that people were inherently good. The troubles surrounding the partition of India, when hostilities broke out between Muslims and the Hindu/Sikh populations, caused a major change in their relationship.

This story can be read in the preview of The Lily Hand and Other Stories(29% in)

“Bread” by Margaret Atwood

The narrator tells the reader to imagine a piece of bread in a few vastly different situations. (Summary & Analysis)

Read “Bread”

“The Emperor’s New Clothes (Suit)” by Hans Christian Andersen

An emperor loves nice clothes and spends all his money on them. He ignores his real duties. Two men say they know how to weave the most beautiful cloth that can only be seen by people who are smart and good at their jobs. The emperor pays them a huge sum of money to make him some clothes.

This story can be read in the preview of The Complete Stories and Fairytales.

“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor

An extended family is headed to Florida for a vacation. The grandmother wants to go to Tennessee instead, so she talks about an escaped murderer—The Misfit—who is suspected to be on his way to Florida.

This story can be read in the preview of A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories. (Kindle preview)

“The Zebra Storyteller” by Spencer Holst

A Siamese cat learns to speak to Zebras, taking advantage of the shock of it to tie them up and kill them. (Summary)

This fable can be read in the preview of The Language of Cats and Other Stories.

“The Sniper” by Liam O’Flaherty

At night a sniper waits on a rooftop. He risks lighting a cigarette which alerts a nearby sniper of his presence.  They exchange some fire. The sniper feels trapped, but he knows he has to get off the roof before enemy forces converge on him. (Summary & Analysis)

Read here

“The Last Leaf” by O. Henry

A few tenants in an apartment building are painters/artists. One of the tenants gets pneumonia, and she can see a vine from her deathbed window. She says she’s going to die when the vine loses its last leaf.

This story can be read in the preview of 50 Greatest Short Stories(46% into preview)

Short Stories with Deep Meaning, Cont’d

“The Long Sheet” by William Sansom

Four groups of captives are being held in a long rectangular metal structure with skylights. Three feet off the ground, running through all the cells, is a long white sheet soaked with water. The wardens tell the captives that they will be released when their section of sheet has been wrung bone dry.

“The Red Bow” by George Saunders

A young girl is killed by dogs. Some men in the village look for the dogs and shoot them. They turn their attention to other dogs that might also be dangerous. Their enthusiasm for making the village safe gets out of hand.

“He-y, Come On Ou-t” by Shinichi Hoshi

In a certain village, after a big storm, the people discover a hole in the ground. It’s about a meter wide, but they can’t figure out how deep it is. It seems to have no bottom. They think about what should be done with it.

Read “He-y, Come On Ou-t”

“The Interlopers” by Saki

Ulrich is out patrolling his forest with a rifle. He’s not hunting the usual game; he wants to catch his neighbor, Georg, poaching on his land. Their families have a long standing feud over the territory, going back to their grandfathers. They hate each other intensely. Ulrich leaves his men on a hill and walks deeper into the growth.

Read “The Interlopers”

“The Last Question” by Isaac Asimov

Multivac is a supercomputer that analyzes, and provides solutions for, many human problems and questions. One day, in 2061, two of its attendants, Adell and Lupov, have a conversation about how long Earth’s energy will last. The output has already been drastically increased due to Multivac’s analysis. Still, they figure twenty billion years is probably the limit. They decide to ask Multivac how to massively decrease entropy in the universe.

Short Stories with Deep Meaning, Cont’d

“The Bishop’s Silver” by Victor Hugo

While in town running errands, Madame Magloire, the housekeeper, hears about a vagabond who’s been spotted and is probably up to no good. She tells the bishop but he seems unconcerned. There’s  a loud knock at the door. A tired but fierce looking man enters. Madame Magloire and Mademoiselle Baptistine, the bishop’s sister, are frightened. The man is a convict, released only four days ago. He can’t find an inn that will take him due to his past. He’s looking for a place to stay the night.

This story is an excerpt from the novel Les Misérables.

“The Burglar’s Christmas” by Willa Cather (E. Seymour)

Two shabby young men talk about getting some food. One decides to walk to a saloon where he knows the owner, hoping to get something from him. The other, Crawford, isn’t up for the walk so they split up. Crawford has reached his breaking point; he can see that he’s failed and there’s no hope. He thinks about what has led him to this point. He decides to steal something.

Read “The Burglar’s Christmas”

“The Appointment in Samarra” by W. Somerset Maugham

A servant meets Death in a Bagdad marketplace and flees from him.

Read “The Appointment in Samarra”

“Three Questions” by Leo Tolstoy

A king wants the answers to three very important questions. He finds a wise hermit who helps him discover the answers.

Read here

I’ll keep adding short stories with deep meaning as I find more.