This week I read several short stories to broaden what I teach to students. I have a love/hate relationship with a lot of the stories because they depict situations which are miserable or embarrassing for the main character. However, these stories are well-written and are perfect for meaningful discussions about core values, family, love, relationships, and class divides.
Here is what I read this week:
"The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant - Matilde is a beautiful woman from a lower class family. She believes that she deserves pretty and expensive things, and resents her husband for being unable to provide them. When they are invited to a fancy party, Matilde buys an expensive dress and borrows a necklace from her good friend in order to fit in. It is hard to like Matilde's character, or to feel sorry for her, when she has an unfounded sense of entitlement.
"The Stolen Party" by Liliana Heker - Rosaura is invited to a birthday party for her friend Luciana, but Rosaura's mother insists that Luciana does not see her as a friend, but as the maid's daughter. It is interesting to read a story in which a slow understanding rolls over you instead of the author revealing all in a dramatic pivotal moment.
"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by James Thurber - Walter daydreams more than he experiences real life. Whether he is saving the patient in the operating room or flying solo in a bombing mission for the war, Walter's secret daydreams are as fascinating to readers as they are annoying to his wife.
"The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry - A poor couple sell precious belongings in order to afford Christmas presents for one another. This story is more frustrating than heartwarming to me because I think the couple could have spent their money more wisely.
"Woman Hollering Creek" by Sandra Cisneros - Cleófilas hopes to find passion like she sees in a telenovela - a man to take her away from her endless chores - and instead winds up in an unfamiliar country, trapped and miserable. I have mixed feelings about this story. It not easy to read because of the loneliness Cleófilas feels and the abuse she endures. However, I don't believe in only reading happy stories, and this story is well-written and a fast read.