These southern short stories were written by authors from the southern United States. They are usually set there, as well. I’m only including one story per author, but they’ve written many more you can check out. For stories from the continent of South America, see:
Southern Short Stories
“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker
Mama is an African-American woman living in the Deep South with her daughter, Maggie. Her other daughter, Dee, an educated woman who’s drawn to a traditional African identity, is coming for a visit. (Summary & Analysis)
“The Outcast” by Rick Bragg
The narrator’s little brother bought an unusual, ill-tempered goat he called Ramrod, that was very large. His plan was to procure nanny goats and breed a whole herd of them. One time when he went fishing, he accidentally hooked Ramrod with his line.
This story can be read in the preview of Where I Come From: Stories from the Deep South.
“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner
A Southern spinster, Emily Grierson, has died. She had been a recluse, so the townspeople are curious about her and her house. The narrator recounts episodes from her life. (Summary & Analysis)
This story can be read in the preview of A Rose for Emily and Other Stories. (18% into preview)
“Saturday Afternoon” by Erskine Caldwell
Tom Denny’s lazy Saturday afternoon is interrupted when a lynching party is formed. He joins the mob in search of Will Maxie, a black man accused of talking to a white woman.
This is the fourth story in the preview of The Stories of Erskine Caldwell.
“Desiree’s Baby” by Kate Chopin
Desiree had been adopted as a toddler. She is now an adult with a baby of her own. She and her husband, Armand, are very happy. After a while, there are some whispers about the baby’s background. (Summary & Analysis)
This story can be read by selecting it in the table of contents of The Awakening, and Selected Short Stories.
“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. Despite her efforts, her son Bailey is set on going to Florida.
This story can be read in the preview of A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories. (Kindle preview)
“The Ballad of the Sad Café” by Carson McCullers
Miss Amelia was a rich woman, having inherited a store from her father. She also operated a still that produced the best liquor in the county. She was solitary, and most of her days were the same, apart from a ten-day stretch when she was married. Things changed when Miss Amelia was thirty. Late one night, a hunchbacked stranger, barely over four feet tall, came to her store. He said he was looking for Miss Amelia because they’re related. He sat on the steps and cried. The few onlookers had no doubt Miss Amelia would run this stranger off her property and out of town.
Some of this novella can be read in the preview of The Ballad of the Sad Café: And Other Stories. (18% into preview)
“The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts
Violet Karl is traveling to Tulsa, Oklahoma to get healed by a televangelist—she was struck by an axe head as a child which disfigured her face. As she travels by bus, she meets several people who react to her in different ways.
“Why I Live at the P. O.” by Eudora Welty
The narrator’s sister, Stella-Rondo, is coming back home. She’s separated from her husband, Mr. Whitaker, whom she had stolen from the narrator. She returns with a two-year-old adopted blonde daughter, Shirley-T. The narrator notes that the girl resembles both sides of the family. The sisters, and the family in general, engage in lots of petty arguing.
Read “Why I Live at the P. O.”
“A Christmas Memory” by Truman Capote
A young boy, “Buddy”, lives with various relatives including his elderly, distant cousin who is his best friend. The family is poor, but “Buddy” and his cousin save their pennies each year for some special holiday food and to buy a present for each other.
“Time and Again” by Breece D’J Pancake
The narrator is called out to plow roads by his coworker, Mr. Weeks. He hears his hogs making noise, and thinks how he would like to rest and just let the hogs get old. He picks up a young man who is hitchhiking.
“First Dark” by Elizabeth Spencer
Tom Beavers makes visits to his elderly aunt who raised him in Richton. He talks to a pharmacist about a town myth about an old man who waves at people from Jackson road. Tom say him earlier. Frances Harvey overhears and says she saw him too. This starts a relationship between them.
“The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” by Katherine Anne Porter
Doctor Harry checks on Granny Weatherall, a bed-ridden woman of almost eighty. She’s uncooperative and wants him to leave. She thinks about what she’ll do tomorrow. She has to go through her box of letters from George and John. She doesn’t need the children finding them. She thinks about her life, including the time she was left at the altar.
Read “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall”
“The Last Day in the Field” by Caroline Gordon
Aleck is aging and has a persistent pain in his leg. Despite these things, he still goes hunting with his friend, Joe, a young man. Although Aleck wants to be young, he doesn’t let his difficulties ruin his hunt.
“Christmas Gift” by Robert Penn Warren
A ten-year-old boy has to go into town to find a doctor for his sister, who is having a baby.
“Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston
Delia supports her abusive, cheating husband by washing clothes. He comes up with a plan to get rid of her, to take up with his mistress.
“The Sky is Gray” by 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 he tries aspirin and a prayer cure with his aunt’s help, without success, his mother discovers the problem.
I’ll keep adding southern short stories as I find more.