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Short Stories

By | April 2008
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Mystery in the Short Story

The term short story can be a bit deceiving. The idea of a short story seems that it may be lacking something, that some of the essential elements of plot and other aspects of literature may not be found in these stories as they would in novels. Eudora Welty in her essay “The Reading and Writing of Short Stories” states that “Every good story has a mystery-not the puzzle kind, but the mystery of allurement”(164). This mystery can be found in her own short story, “Why I live at the P.O.” and Anton Chekhov’s story “The Lady with the Pet Dog.” Although these stories develop their mystery and allurement in different ways, both use the elements of plot such as point of view and setting as well as narration to develop their stories in a way that keeps building mystery and attraction to the work throughout the whole story.

Welty continues in her article stating, “As we understand the story better, it is likely that the mystery does not necessarily decrease, it simply grows more beautiful”(164). By incorporating different aspects of plot into short stories, authors are able to create allurement in their works. When using these elements Welty concludes that “All this is delightful to us not only for itself but for its function of play or assuring of anticipation.” This anticipation can be derived in many ways as seen in Welty’s and Chekhov’s stories.

Chekhov’s story holds mystery within each of the four parts of the story. As the plot sets on there is an attraction between Gurov and Anna Sergeyenvna. The mystery does not lie in their attraction, but the setting. “The stories told of the immorality of Yalta are to a great extent untrue, he despised them, and knew that such stories were made up for the most part by persons who would have been glad to sin themselves if they had the chance” (136). Though the thought that these stories are untrue about Yalta, this thought of Gurov’s still puts the thought in the reader’s mind that there may...
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