These short stories with dialect have characters or narrators who speak in a non-standard way, usually because it’s common in their area or English is their second language. Dialect can make a story harder to read, but in most of the stories here, it’s not overdone. I hope you find a great example of a short story with dialect.
Short Stories with Dialect
“The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara
An inner-city class goes on a field trip to an expensive toy store. The children try to understand the differences in people’s wealth. (Summary & Analysis)
“The Lesson” is the first story in the Amazon preview of The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story. (22% into preview)
“The Goophered Grapevine” by Charles W. Chesnutt
A black man, Uncle Julius, tells the story of a North Carolina vineyard to interested buyers, John and Annie. It was owned by Dugal McAdoo before the Civil War and it produced well. To deal with a theft problem he consulted Aunt Peggy, a woman who was feared for her curses. (Summary)
“The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” by Mark Twain
At the request of a friend, the narrator calls on old Simon Wheeler to get the story of a man named Leonidas Smiley. Smiley was a betting man, and quite lucky. He would bet on anything. He had a dog that he won a lot of money with. Most of all, though, he was known for his bets on an unusual frog.
This is the first story in the preview of Book of Mark Twain’s Short Stories. (15% into preview)
“Blues Ain’t No Mockin Bird” by Toni Cade Bambara
Some children are playing in the front yard with the two neighbor children while their grandmother works in the back. Two men are in the field nearby with a movie camera. They say they are making a film about food stamps. The grandmother has asked them to stop, but they simply moved farther away.
“Gorilla, My Love” by Toni Cade Bambara
The young narrator tells us that Hunca Bubba (Uncle Bubba) is going to start using his proper name. He has met a woman and is going to marry her. The narrator remembers a time when the kids in the family went to see a movie called Gorilla, My Love; they were disappointed when the theatre showed something else instead.
“The Sheriff’s Children” by Charles W. Chesnutt
In the small town of Troy in North Carolina, Captain Walker is murdered. A mulatto man had been seen at the Captain’s house the previous night, so he is apprehended. The men feel that they should mete out justice themselves and decide to lynch him. The sheriff hears about the plan.
Short Stories with Dialect, Cont’d
“Jim Baker’s Blue-Jay Yarn” by Mark Twain
The narrator knows a man, Jim Baker, who understands animal talk. Apparently, animal speech varies just as human speech does, by education, vocabulary level and excitability. He relates a story of a determined blue jay.
“The Blues I’m Playing” by Langston Hughes
Mrs. Ellsworth, a wealthy widow, serves as patron for Oceola Jones, a young black pianist. Oceola tries to maintain some distance while Mrs. Ellsworth pries into her life, trying to control whatever she can. Mrs. Ellsworth doesn’t agree with all the music Oceola plays, and she doesn’t approve of her boyfriend.
“The Eatonville Anthology” by Zora Neale Hurston
In fourteen short vignettes we meet some of the residents of Eatonville, Florida. It is a small African-American community. The anecdotes are often humorous, describing the eccentricities, perceptions, crimes, entertainments, and tall-tales of the townspeople.
“Spunk” by Zora Neale Hurston
A large fearless man openly has a relationship with another man’s wife. The cuckolded husband reaches his breaking point.
“The Gilded Six-Bits” by Zora Neale Hurston
Joe and Missie, happy newlyweds, live in a modest house in an all-black community. A new man in town, Otis, opens an ice cream parlor, and makes a show of his gold accessories. He talks about his money and his success with women. Joe and Missie’s marriage is put to the test.
“Civil Peace” by Chinua Achebe
Jonathan Iwegbu and his family rebuild their lives after the Nigerian Civil War.
Short Stories with Dialect, Cont’d
“The Life You Save May Be Your Own” by Flannery O’Connor
An old woman and her daughter live on a run-down farm. The woman hires a drifter, Mr. Shiftlet, to do work around the place in exchange for shelter. She’s angling to marry off her daughter to him.
“Mrs. Bathurst” by Rudyard Kipling
The narrator gets the story of Mr. Vickery, a reticent man who deserted the navy. He became infatuated with Mrs. Bathurst, a hotel proprietor known for her generosity.
“The Revolt of ‘Mother’” by Mary Wilkins Freeman
Adoniram Penn is building a new barn on the spot where he had promised his wife, Sarah, that he would build the family a new house. She confronts him about it but he won’t speak of it. She sees an opportunity to assert herself, and takes it.
“Race at Morning” by William Faulkner
A hunting party, including a twelve-year-old boy who narrates, sets out one morning after a deer.
Read “Race at Morning”
“The Man Who Was Almost a Man” by 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 Storm” by Kate Chopin
While her husband is waiting out a storm at a local store, Calixta is at home. She goes to bring in her laundry from the front porch when she sees an old love, Alcee. She invites him inside.
I’ll keep adding short stories with dialect as I find more.