Short Stories

Coleridge, Mary E. “The King is Dead, Long Live the King.” The Language of Literature. Arthur N. Applebee, Andrea B. Bermudez, Sheridan Blau, Rebekah Caplan, et al. A Houghton Mifflin Company: Evanston, Illinois, 2002. 889-895. Print.

 This short story, “The King is Dead, Long Live the King,” is plotted many years ago, when kings were still absolute monarchs of state. It tells the story of a king who died and had the option to return to life, only if he found three persons who wanted him a live, in a given time after his death. This seemed very easy for the king, because he thought “[he] could find three thousand as easily as three” but at the end of the story he was only able to find 2 persons that wanted him alive. Coleridge’s point is that life rarely turns out the way people expect; the human race is very naïve and optimistic and very often hope for things, which are very improbable. By developing this plot, Coleridge shows us a truthful insight about human beings, and she does by using situational irony. The audience, as well as the king, expects him to live ,but instead the king dies and notices that not even the queen wanted him alive, and had been cheating on him with his best friend.  

Henry, O. “Comedy in Rubber.” Literature Collection. Art Branch Inc. n, d. Web. 19 May. 2011.

 This short story narrates the love story between two rubbers, people who go to accident sites in New York City. After meeting in an accident, William Pry falls in love with Violet Seymour they part their separate ways, but can´t stop thinking about each other. After a desperate search by William, they encounter and start dating, and finally they marry each other. Even though the plot of the story is weird, it suggests that love is a peculiar thing that can happen to any one, at any moment, in any place. I believe O. Henry chose this scene to make it clear that he believes love is a peculiar thing and also to make fun of it. By writing a love story about these atypical people, and how they fell in love, Henry manages to make fun of how unpredictable love is. Also he uses irony, because no one would have thought that people with William´s and Violet’s characteristics could feel something as sweet and caring as love. 

Irring, Washington. “The Devil and Tom Walker.” The language of Literature. Ed Arthur N. Applebee, Andrea B. Bermudez, Shridan Blau, Rebekah Caplan, et al. A Houghton Mifflin Company: Evanston, Illinois, 2002. 250-359. Print.

 In this short story, a man named Tom Walker sells his soul to the devil in exchange for wealth. During his lifetime he works for the devil and receives prosperity in return. When his death approaches his economic situation starts changing and one day the devil appropriates his soul. Washington uses this situation to demonstrate how ironic life is. He claims that people are capable of any thing in order to acquire what they desire, but they´re never aware of the price they have to pay. The story forces readers to contemplate the existence of karma and Washington uses humor to address controversial topics, which makes it easier to expose his ideas on the issues he desire. 

Keillor, Garrison. “Garry Keillor.” The Language of Literature. Ed Arthur N. Applebee, Andrea B. Bermudez, Sheridan Blau, Rebekah Caplan, et al. A Houghton Mifflin Company: Evanston, Illinois, 2002. 425-433. Print.

 In this short story, Garrison Keillor exhibits am embarrassing moment that occurred to him, at the age of 16, when he had to perform a poem in front of the entire high school. He also describes what got him to do it and some events that occur simultaneously. Basically he was embarrassed in front of the girl he liked, but when he had to perform, he gave the poem a musical twist and it ended up fascinating everyone.  At the end of the story he claims that this event was very significant for him. He implies that no matter what the situation is, one must always get the best out of it and many times we are able to succeed and turn a humiliating moment into one of joy, laughter and celebration. Not only is the text funny due to his use of sarcasm, ridicule, comparisons and metaphors, but also he is able to illustrate that he used humor to take the best out of a moment in his life, where embarrassing moments taunted him. 

Twain, Mark. “From the Autobiography of Mark Twain.” The Language of Literature. Ed Arthur N. Applebee, Andrea B. Bermudez, Sheridan Blau, Rebekah Caplan, et al. A Houghton Mifflin Company: Evanston, Illinois, 2002. 659-666. Print.

 In this short part of the autobiography of Mark Twain, he describes a moment in his childhood when he played a trick on his whole town. He over exaggerates how much fun he had when a mesmerizer came to town, and in order to gain fame, he played hypnotized, acting as if the mesmerizer was controlling him and his pain, by letting him puncture his body with pins. Many years later, he regrets the lie he carried and tries to tell the truth, except nobody believes him. Basically, Twain is claiming, “the glory which is built upon a lie soon becomes a most unpleasant incumbrance.” Even though he is illustrating that lies are very hard to carry, he manages to address a serious topic using humor, by exaggerating irony in his text. This is similar to the story “The Boy who cried Wolf,” where the boy fakes the coming of the wolf multiple times, that when the wolf really comes no one believed him.  By describing this ironic moment in his life, Twain is reflecting the ironies of life and how it has a way to reward and punish the people who deserve each. 

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