American Literature

This collection is designed for teachers and professors creating or revising a comprehensive American Literature syllabus. We’ve gathered study guides on classic novels, plays, and poems by some of the most frequently taught American writers, such as Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Toni Morrison, and Louise Glück. If you’re looking for more contemporary texts, like Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam or The Color of Water by James McBride, you’ll find those here, too!

Publication year 2018Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Identity: Mental Health, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Self Help, Inspirational, Psychology, Parenting, Sociology, American Literature

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (2018) is Jordan B. Peterson’s second book. Peterson’s self-help book seeks to provide practical and virtuous rules to live by for a wide audience and general readership. The book streamlines, simplifies, and reimagines some of the more traditionally academic topics of Peterson’s first book, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief. Each non-fiction work aims to explain human history and human nature according to universal frameworks. 12... Read 12 Rules for Life Summary

Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Life/Time: Mortality & DeathTags Historical Fiction, Romance, Food, Relationships, Politics / Government, Love / Sexuality, American Literature

Publication year 1995Genre Poem, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Society: War, Relationships: Teams, Life/Time: The Future, Natural World: Space & The UniverseTags Free verse, Lyric Poem, Spoken Word Poetry, Politics / Government, History: World, Military / War, Grief / Death, American Literature

Publication year 1990Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: FamilyTags Realistic Fiction, Children's Literature, Class, Relationships, Parenting, Love / Sexuality, American Literature

Publication year 1914Genre Poem, FictionThemes Natural World: ObjectsTags Modernism, American Literature

Publication year 2002Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Identity: DisabilityTags Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Historical Fiction, Grief / Death, Depression / Suicide, Health / Medicine, Mental Illness, American Literature

Hattie Owen’s life changes the summer she turns 12 and meets the young uncle she never knew existed in Ann M. Martin’s middle-grade novel, A Corner of the Universe (2002). Uncle Adam has been kept a secret because of his mental problems. Adults have trouble handling his emotional extremes, but shy Hattie finds a true friend in her exuberant uncle. Adam teaches Hattie to explore life beyond the safety of her front porch. As Hattie... Read A Corner of the Universe Summary

Publication year 1991Genre Poem, FictionThemes Life/Time: Aging, Relationships: FathersTags Lyric Poem, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Parenting, American Literature

Among Peter Meinke’s most anthologized poems, “Advice to My Son” is best known for its humorous, ironic tone and contemporary interpretation of traditional rhyme structure. First published in 1964 in The Antioch Review, the poem was anthologized in the volume Liquid Paper: New and Selected Poems (1991), published by the Pittsburgh Press. According to Meinke, he had little idea that the poem would so deeply resonate with readers when he first wrote it as a... Read Advice to My Son Summary

Publication year 1929Genre Novel, FictionTags The Lost Generation, Modernism, American Literature

A Farewell to Arms, written by Ernest Hemingway and published in 1929, is the story of Frederic Henry, an officer with the Italian army in World War I, and his relationship with Catherine Barkley, a British nurse. Some have noted the similarities between the main character and Hemingway, who also served in the Italian army as an ambulance driver in 1918, and his nurse, Agnes Von Kurowsky, who cared for Hemingway after he was wounded.The... Read A Farewell to Arms Summary

Genre Poem, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Fame, Values/Ideas: Art, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Lyric Poem, Auto/Biographical Fiction, American Literature

Publication year 1975Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Society: Colonialism, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags American Literature, Satire

“Africa Kills Her Sun” is a satirical short story by Nigerian author Ken Saro-Wiwa. Published in 1989 in the anthology Adaku and Other Stories, “Africa Kills Her Sun” takes the form of a letter, written in first-person present tense by the main character, Bana. Bana recounts his adult life—his career change, crimes, and remaining moments before execution—to his childhood girlfriend, Zole, whom he has not seen or spoken to in 10 years.Bana begins the letter... Read Africa Kills Her Sun Summary

Publication year 1914Genre Poem, FictionTags Science / Nature, Modernism, American Literature

Publication year 1979Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Mystery / Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Military / War, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, American Literature

After the First Death (1979) by Robert Cormier is a juvenile suspense/horror that examines the fragility of life through a terrorist hijacking of a bus full of children. The book in conjunction with Cormier’s two most famous teen titles, The Chocolate War (1974) and I Am the Cheese (1977), won him the Margaret A. Edwards Award from the Young Adult Services Division of the American Library Association in 1991. Cormier was born in 1925 and... Read After The First Death Summary

Publication year 1906Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Classic Fiction, American Literature

Note: Readers can access the source on Project Gutenberg here.With a complex relationship between two characters and an unexpected yet inevitable twist at the climax, “After Twenty Years,” published in the collection The Four Million (1906), is a typical example of O. Henry’s storytelling style. The story explores the themes of identity and change, perception and reality, and loyalty, and the twist ending means that each reading of the story is a new experience.The story... Read After Twenty Years Summary

Publication year 2020Genre Poem, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Emotions/Behavior: Nostalgia, Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / PerseveranceTags Lyric Poem, Grief / Death, American Literature

Publication year 1959Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Masculinity, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, American Literature, Classic Fiction, Action / Adventure, Military / War, Relationships, History: U.S., Cold War

Alas, Babylon is a 1959 novel by Pat Frank. Written during the Cold War, it is one of the earliest post-apocalyptic novels to deal with the potential consequences of nuclear war. It examines themes of nationalism, natural selection, deterrent force, and resilience.Plot SummaryAs the novel begins, Mark Bragg sends a telegram to his brother, Randy. The telegram includes the words, “Alas, Babylon,” their code for the onset of a nuclear attack. Mark is an officer... Read Alas, Babylon Summary

Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Identity: Masculinity, Identity: DisabilityTags Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Drama / Tragedy, Relationships, LGBTQ, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Depression / Suicide, American Literature

Publication year 1947Genre Play, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Relationships: Family, Society: War, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Play: Tragedy, Classic Fiction, American Literature, Military / War

All My Sons is a play by Arthur Miller, first performed in 1947. Based on a true story, All My Sons tells the story of a munitions factory owner who is accused of producing defective engines for aircraft. The play received many awards, ran for 328 shows on Broadway, and has been twice adapted as a film. This guide is based on the 2015 Penguin Classics edition of Miller’s Collected Plays. Plot SummaryJoe Keller is... Read All My Sons Summary

Publication year 2008Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Relationships: SiblingsTags Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Poverty, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Relationships, Bullying, American Literature

All The Lovely Bad Ones is a 2008 middle-grade fiction book written by Mary Downing Hahn, a prolific children’s author who has authored several award-winning novels. The book’s title is taken from the poem “Little Orphant Annie” by James Whitcomb Riley, which the author inscribed to all children—including “all the lovely bad ones.” All The Lovely Bad Ones won an Oklahoma Sequoyah Award for Children and the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award.All The Lovely... Read All The Lovely Bad Ones Summary

Publication year 1975Genre Play, FictionThemes Relationships: FriendshipTags Play: Drama, American Literature, Mystery / Crime Fiction, Drama / Tragedy

American Buffalo is a 1975 off-Broadway play written by American playwright David Mamet. It first premiered in Chicago’s Goodman Theater in 1975, reaching Broadway in 1977. Along with two other plays, The Duck Variations (1971) and Sexual Perversity in Chicago (1974), American Buffalo established Mamet as a reputable writer. The play explores friendship and greed among the working classes. The 1976 publication from Grove Press (New York) serves as the basis for this guide.The play... Read American Buffalo Summary

Publication year 1993Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Society: Immigration, Society: Community, Identity: RaceTags Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Race / Racism, Class, History: U.S., American Literature

Publication year 1997Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: FateTags Historical Fiction, American Literature, Relationships

American Pastoral (1997) by Philip Roth examines in detail one man’s quest for the American dream and the fragility of the entire enterprise. Roth, one of the most critically acclaimed novelists of the 20th century, focuses his narrative microscope through the eyes of Nathan Zuckerman, his literary alter ego from whose perspective he has written 10 other novels, including Zuckerman Unbound (1981), The Anatomy Lesson (1983), and The Human Stain (2000). Roth has won virtually... Read American Pastoral Summary

Publication year 2018Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Incarceration, Social Justice, Journalism, Race / Racism, American Literature, Post-War Era

Publication year 2009Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Class, Society: Economics, Society: Education, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & PrideTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, American Literature, Class, Poverty

Following in the literary footsteps of John Steinbeck and Cormac McCarthy, Philipp Meyer’s American Rust (2010) explores the catastrophic effects of economic devastation on the lives of six characters in Pennsylvania’s Mon Valley, once home to a thriving steel and coal industry (and a solid-middle class) but now populated by broken lives and shuttered businesses. The novel was a winner of the Los Angeles Times/Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, a Washington Post Top Ten... Read American Rust Summary

Publication year 1893Genre Poem, FictionThemes Society: NationTags Lyric Poem, Inspirational, American Literature

Publication year 1964Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Literature, Relationships: FriendshipTags Travel Literature, American Literature

A Moveable Feast was written by Ernest Hemingway and published posthumously in 1964, three years after his death. The title, A Moveable Feast, is a play on the term used for holy days that do not consistently fall on the same date every year. The memoir’s structure mirrors this concept, featuring 20 separate yet related stories that make up Hemingway’s own collection of inconsistent holy days. The memoir blends fact with fiction as Hemingway recalls... Read A Moveable Feast Summary

Publication year 2017Genre Poem, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Identity: Mental Health, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Lyric Poem, History: U.S., American Literature, Food

Joy Harjo is a seminal voice in the US poetry canon, and she has long been an advocate for Native American women in the literary world. Her work has merited tremendous acclaim, such as a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas, the Josephine Miles Poetry Award, the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the American... Read An American Sunrise Summary

Publication year 1925Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Relationships: MarriageTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction, Drama / Tragedy, American Literature

Published in 1925, Theodore Dreiser’s realist novel An American Tragedy is one of the author’s most critically acclaimed works. Set in the 1920s in Kansas City, Chicago, and small-town New York state, the novel is the story of how Clyde Griffiths, the son of poor, itinerant preachers, kills Roberta Alden during a boat trip in the Adirondack Mountains.This guide is based on the Kindle edition published by Rosetta Books.Content Warning: This novel contains racist slurs... Read An American Tragedy Summary

Publication year 1884Genre Poem, FictionTags Narrative / Epic Poem, Gender / Feminism, American Literature

Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Siblings, Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Society: Community, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: HopeTags Relationships, American Literature

Anything Is Possible is a 2017 novel by Elizabeth Strout in which each chapter features a character who is separate from but interconnects with the book’s other characters. Each chapter thus serves as both an autonomous short story and a piece of a larger, cohesive narrative and echoes or parallels other chapters.Strout, whose 2008 novel Olive Kitteridge won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, received the prestigious Story Prize for Anything Is Possible. The novel follows... Read Anything Is Possible Summary

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Publication year 1961Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Society: ClassTags Classic Fiction, American Literature, Humor, Class

“A&P” is one of John Updike’s most well-known and celebrated short stories, first published in The New Yorker on July 22, 1961, and later appearing in the author’s short story collection Pigeon Feathers. A Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Updike populates his realist fiction with small-town, middle-class Americans. Adaptations of “A&P” include a 1966 short film directed by Bruce Schwartz, starring Sean Hayes as Sammy and Amy Smart as Queenie.The protagonist, Sammy, is also the story’s first-person... Read A&P Summary

Publication year 1948Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Identity: Mental Health, Relationships: Marriage, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Society: WarTags Classic Fiction, American Literature, Depression / Suicide, WWII / World War II

“A Perfect Day for Bananafish” is a short story by iconic American author J. D. Salinger. First published in The New Yorker in 1948 and later published in the collection Nine Stories (1953), it is considered one of Salinger’s breakthrough works, establishing the unique voice, flair for character, energetic dialogue, and inventive style that would become his trademarks. The story centers on a young New York City couple, Seymour and Muriel Glass, and the bizarre... Read A Perfect Day for Bananafish Summary

Publication year 2006Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Class, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Natural World: PlaceTags Satire, Humor, Race / Racism, History: U.S., Business / Economics, American Literature, Reconstruction Era, African American Literature

Apex Hides the Hurt, a 2006 novel by American author Colson Whitehead, follows a nameless, emotionally muted nomenclature consultant, or an expert in creating brand names. The novel toggles between the protagonist’s memories of success at his company, and his current consulting assignment—renaming a town. The novel satirizes contemporary American consumer culture and features themes of race and identity. Whitehead uses humor and revelation as key narrative techniques in this story about a man who... Read Apex Hides the Hurt Summary

Publication year 1909Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Society: ClassTags Psychological Fiction, Modern Classic Fiction, Sports, Poverty, Psychology, Social Justice, American Literature

Jack London’s 1909 “A Piece of Steak” is a naturalist short story first published in The Saturday Evening Post. It took him between two and four weeks to write, and he was paid a very handsome (for the era) $500 for it. While London is best known for his novels about the Alaskan wilderness, including The Call of the Wild and White Fang, he was also interested in workers’ rights and advocated for socialism and... Read A Piece of Steak Summary

Publication year 1838Genre Poem, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / PerseveranceTags Lyric Poem, Grief / Death, American Literature

Publication year 1959Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Relationships: Fathers, Identity: GenderTags American Literature, African American Literature, Black Arts Movement

When Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun premiered in 1959, it was the first play by a black woman to open on Broadway, as well as the first play with a black director. The title comes from Langston Hughes’s poem “Harlem,” which asks, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?” The play tells the story of the Youngers, a family who lives together in a small... Read A Raisin in the Sun Summary

Publication year 1894Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Relationships: Marriage, Self DiscoveryTags Classic Fiction, Gender / Feminism, American Literature

Publication year 1903Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Values/Ideas: FateTags Classic Fiction, American Literature

“A Retrieved Reformation,” by prolific American short story writer O. Henry, was first published as “A Retrieved Reform” in The Cosmopolitan in 1903. The story is an example of Realism, a literary movement popular in the US and Europe in the years between the end of the American Civil War and the early 20th century. Realism explores the everyday lives of ordinary people, using detailed descriptions and colloquial dialogue. Events in “A Retrieved Reformation” are... Read A Retrieved Reformation Summary

Publication year 2012Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Identity: Sexuality, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Realistic Fiction, LGBTQ, Relationships, Bullying, Parenting, American Literature

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz is a young adult fiction novel published in 2012. The novel won a Lambda Literary Award, a Pura Belpre Award, and a Stonewall Book Award. It was also named a Printz Honor Book. Told from a first-person point of view, the book is a work of realistic fiction set in El Paso, Texas, in the late 1980s.Plot SummaryAristotle “Ari” Mendoza is the... Read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Summary

Publication year 1959Genre Novel, FictionTags American Literature

Published in 1959, A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, depicts a teenager’s coming-of-age at a New England boy’s boarding school during the final years of World War II. The novel explores peace and conflict in a space that is both isolated from the war and beginning to feel the compromise as the war encroaches on the campus in both literal and figurative ways. A semi-autobiographical book based on Knowles’s boyhood tenure at Exeter in New... Read A Separate Peace Summary

Publication year 1930Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Relationships: MothersTags Southern Gothic, American Literature, Classic Fiction, Grief / Death, Parenting

As I Lay Dying is a Southern Gothic novel by William Cuthbert Faulkner, which he published in 1930. The story follows a poor, rural family’s journey across Mississippi to bury their dead matriarch and is marked by dark humor and stream-of-consciousness style narration.Faulkner (1897-1962) was a writer from Oxford, Mississippi. His novels and works of short fiction, including The Sound and the Fury (1929) and As I Lay Dying (1930), earned him the Nobel Prize... Read As I Lay Dying Summary

Publication year 2001Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Emotions/Behavior: FearTags Historical Fiction, Children's Literature, Asian Literature, Realistic Fiction, Arts / Culture, History: Asian, Poverty, American Literature

A Single Shard (2001) is an award-winning, middle-grade historical novel by Korean American author Linda Sue Park. Park has written multiple children’s books, picture books, and volumes of poetry. Some of her better-known titles include A Long Walk to Water (2010), The Thirty-Nine Clues series in nine volumes (2010), and Prairie Lotus (2020). Much of her historical fiction is based on Korean history. A Single Shard is intended for readers in grades 5 to 7... Read A Single Shard Summary

Publication year 1983Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Society: Class, Identity: GenderTags Grief / Death, American Literature, Class, Drama / Tragedy, Gender / Feminism, Race / Racism

“A Small, Good Thing” is one of Raymond Carver’s most decorated short stories. It was first printed in heavily edited form as “The Bath” in a 1981 edition of Columbia. When Carver reworked the story for his 1983 collection Cathedral, he titled this more complete version “A Small, Good Thing.” In this form, the story won the coveted O. Henry award and appeared in the year’s Pushcart Prize Annual. A work of literary realism, “A... Read A Small Good Thing Summary

Publication year 1947Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Southern Gothic, American Literature

A Streetcar Named Desire is one of Tennessee Williams's most famous plays. Published in 1947, it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and has garnered numerous Tony and Olivier awards since its first production. Blanche Dubois arrives at the French Quarter of New Orleans to stay with her sister, Stella Kowalski. The sisters grew up wealthy on Belle Reve, a plantation in Laurel, Mississippi, and Blanche is immediately critical of what she sees as Stella’s rough... Read A Streetcar Named Desire Summary

Publication year 1997Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Apathy, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Self Discovery, Society: Community, Society: Education, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Humor, Philosophy, Post Modernism, American Literature

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again is a 1997 essay collection by David Foster Wallace. The seven essays explore 1990s US social issues through subjects such as television, tennis, and (in the most famous essay) a Caribbean cruise. The essays have been referenced many times in popular culture, particularly the title essay, which recounts Wallace’s experiences on a cruise.This guide references the 1998 Abacus edition of the collection.SummaryIn the first essay, “Derivative Sport... Read A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again Summary

Publication year 1936Genre Novella, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Natural World: Space & The Universe, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Action / Adventure, Anthropology, Military / War, Science / Nature, American Literature

At the Mountains of Madness is a science-fiction novella written by H. P. Lovecraft in 1931 and published in Astounding Stories in 1936. Like much of Lovecraft’s work, it also helped establish the genre of cosmic horror, or what Lovecraft called “weird fiction”: horror that relies on existential anxieties about humanity’s place in the universe to achieve its effects. The story involves a research team discovering an ancient city buried beneath the Antarctic. At the... Read At the Mountains of Madness Summary

Publication year 2007Genre Play, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Life/Time: Mortality & DeathTags Play: Tragedy, Play: Comedy / Satire, American Literature

August: Osage County by American playwright Tracy Letts premiered at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre in June 2007 and debuted on Broadway in December of the same year. When Beverly, the Weston family patriarch, goes missing, a web of estranged family members travel home to gather around his vitriolic spouse, Violet. The play is semi-autobiographical, and Letts explores themes of addiction, suicide, and generational trauma from his own childhood in Oklahoma. In 2008, August: Osage County won... Read August: Osage County Summary

Publication year 2010Genre Short Story Collection, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Psychological Fiction, Music, American Literature

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan tracks the passage of time in the lives of individuals in the rock music industry. The chapters defy conventional temporal and narrative chronologies, and each one is a self-contained episode in an unfolding network of stories, spanning six decades from the 1970s to the 2020s. The novel employs various narrative formats, such as the short story, the magazine article, and the graphic slide presentation. The variety... Read A Visit from the Goon Squad Summary

Publication year 1941Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Life/Time: AgingTags Classic Fiction, Southern Literature, American Literature

“A Visit of Charity” is a short story written by Eudora Welty, the first living writer published in the Library of America series. “A Visit of Charity” is one of 17 short stories in Welty’s collection A Curtain of Green, published in 1941 by Doubleday. The text referenced in this guide is from Eudora Welty: Stories, Essays, and Memoir, published by the Library of America in 1998.The main character, Marian, a 14-year-old Campfire Girl, decides... Read A Visit of Charity Summary

Publication year 1886Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Natural World: Animals, Natural World: Environment, Life/Time: Childhood & YouthTags Science / Nature, Gender / Feminism, American Literature

“A White Heron” is the most popular short story by American author Sarah Orne Jewett. A work of American regionalism and romanticism, the tale emphasizes the setting, the human-animal connection, a celebration of nature, and individual experience. Jewett is a famous figure in literary regionalism, and her work often explores themes of the natural world. In “A White Heron,” Jewett uses literary techniques such as personification to make the environment and animals come alive as... Read A White Heron Summary

Publication year 1931Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / PerseveranceTags Great Depression, Jazz Age, American Literature

“Babylon Revisited,” by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a short story that employs the techniques of Literary Modernism to tackle complex themes of The Quest for Personal Redemption, The Haunting Power of the Past, and The Fragility of Personal Reform. First published on February 21, 1931, in The Saturday Evening Post, the story is a reflective journey through the eyes of Charlie Wales, a remorseful man endeavoring to reclaim the pieces of a life... Read Babylon Revisited Summary