Essay #1, Revised
Literature – Fable and Short Story Comparison
A story is a story, but not all stories are told the same. While fables and short stories both have plots and characters, fables like “An Appointment in Samarra” by English novelist W. Somerset Maugham, often have a clearly stated or interpreted moral, while short stories like “A Pair of Tickets”, by Chinese-American author Amy Tan, tell a tale that leaves readers thinking.
Fables are stories that are direct, use unrealistic characters such as animals and objects with human characteristics, and are written with the ultimate goal of a presenting the reader with a moral. While not clearly stated by Maugham, readers as can easily interpret the moral in “An Appointment in Samarra” as “You can never escape Death.” Even though this fable is only about a paragraph long, it presents a plot and a clear moral. Characters in a fable are usually unrealistic such as talking animals or objects and while this story has human characters, they are used metaphorically to state the moral, which is another quality of a fable. The story is told by Death, who Maugham represents as a woman. Maugham writes the story in a literal sense for better understanding of the moral, it is easier to envision a physical escape from a person, than an escape from an act (death). The realization of the moral comes at the end when Death states, “I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra” (Maugham, 6). Death knew just where to find the servant, as Samarra was the very place he ran to escape. Fables like “An Appointment in Samarra” have existed so long because they are short stories that are easy to retell, never grow old, and are written to present a moral to the reader. While the moral is not spelled out for readers as in Aesop’s fables, it is easily understood alike.
Unlike “An Appointment in Samarra”, “A Pair of Tickets”, written in 1989 by...