Absolutely Iconic Short Stories You May Not Remember From High School

I was talking with my housemates about something the other day, and I said "... oh like in 'The Most Dangerous Game'!?" They all knew exactly what I was talking about because we all read "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell in high school. Short stories made up a large portion of my high school English education, and I really enjoyed them. To this day, I'm stunned by the number of incredible themes and plots that authors can pack into like 10 pages! Here are some of the most memorable short stories from my high school English career. 

Disclaimer: I'll spoil the plots of all of these stories, so if you want to experience them for the first time unspoiled, stop reading now. 

  1. 1. "The Most Dangerous Game"

    This story blows. my. mind. In this piece by Richard Connell, a guy named Rainsford falls overboard and rolls up on an island with a ~very~ interesting man named Zaroff. Zaroff is a billionaire and hunter with a huge mansion that he invites Rainsford to stay in since he lost his friends on the boat. Rainsford soon finds out that Zaroff doesn't hunt animals — he hunts HUMANS! Zaroff gives Rainsford three days in the jungle to avoid being caught by him. Spoiler alert: Rainsford survives, and Zaroff dies! 

    I think this story is a good representation of how, in society, millionaires and billionaires tend to do whatever they please no matter who gets hurt in the process. 

  2. 2. "The Lottery"

    Rocks holding hearts

    It's June 27th! You better hope you don't "get it." I guess I should explain. In the world of "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, the annual lottery occurs on June 27th. Everyone in the town has to come together and draw papers from a black box to see if they get the slip of paper that means that their family "got it." If your family "gets it," you then have to do another round of choosing papers within your family, and if your paper has the dot on it, you get STONED. I know, terrible, but it was the tradition. Shirley Jackson definitely wrote a dark one.  

  3. 3. "Harrison Bergeron"

    "Harrison Bergeron" is a short story by Kurt Vonnegut. This story is set in the year 2081 and everyone is "equal." In order to make this so-called equality possible, the government would institute what Vonnegut called 'handicaps.' Personally, I do not agree with this ableist terminology of calling these things a handicap, but that is what they were called in this story.

    For example, if someone was more attractive than someone else, they had to wear masks over their faces. If someone was smarter than someone else, they would have to wear a radio that would broadcast frequencies throughout the day to interrupt their thoughts. 

    This is a dystopia that really plays on the idea of equality in a way that holds people back instead of letting people's strengths shine. In my opinion, a society like this seems like it would be made by someone who is jealous of other people's successes. Nevertheless, it's worth a read!

  4. 4. "The Tell-Tale Heart"

    You know I would never forget my homie, Edgar Allen Poe. In "The Tell-Tale Heart," the unnamed narrator kills his creepy landlord because of his pale-blue eye with a film over it. He kills the old man by crushing him with a bed causing him to only scream once. The narrator then proceeds to cut up the body in a bathtub so the blood won't make a mess — pretty considerate, I guess. The cops then show up because they heard the scream, and the narrator convinces them that he had screamed in his sleep, I assume from "night terrors." There is a ticking sound that is distracting the narrator, and he is convinced that it is the still-beating heart of the old man. He then turns himself in to the police and shows them the body. 

    Pretty weird, but an unforgettable story. 

I hope this sparked some memories from high school English! Short stories can be a great way to pop in some leisure reading during a busy schedule. Happy reading!