Short Stories


Sean Astin in Harrison Bergeron (1995)

As we study satire in an attempt to “read between the lines,” if you will, we’ll be focusing our attentions on a few short stories, all of which attempt to satirize something. (Whether or not they are successful will be up for debate).

Importantly, this unit is as much about developing opinions and making inferences as it is about understanding satire. In fact, to understand satire requires that you, the reader, begin to make some inferences about what the author is trying to satirize, about what he or she is trying to demonstrate as absurd or ridiculous.

The first story that we’ll be reading is Donald Barthelme’s Some of us had been threatening our friend Colby. This biting satire about a group of friends planning their good friend’s execution is not only sharp in its critique of unnecessary pomp and circumstance, but also in its critique of the death penalty. Check it out– it is crazy funny.

The second story is Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron. Vonnegut takes aim at the idea of equality and fires away. This story always sparks serious discussion and debate, so come to class ready to talk. But be nice.

As per normal, you’ll be required to craft a one-page response to these stories. Click here if you need a quick refresher on the rubric.