The Short Stories of Shirley Jackson

An examination of a number of short stories by Shirley Jackson, looking at the alternative themes she tends to portray in her stories.

Shirley Jackson is a short story writer known for writing disturbing stories that focus not on horrific events, but on normal events that occur in society. The writer shows how her stories add new meaning to common events that everyone can relate to, often also making a comment on our society. Three of her stories which have these features, are examined – “The Witch”, “An Ordinary Day, With Peanuts”, and “After You, My Dear Alphonse”. These stories are compared in terms of theme, style, irony, and characters. The common features of Jackson’s work can easily be identified.
In each of the three stories, the theme makes a comment on our society, using everyday events to accomplish this.

In The Witch, a mother is on the train with her four-year old son.

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A man enters and noting that the boy needs entertaining, tells him a story. The story, however, is a horrific one and what would be considered an inappropriate one. The mother must then deal with the social situation of reacting to the man’s inappropriateness. The aspect of the story that communicates the theme is that the boy is actually entertained by the story, even though it is considered inappropriate. This leads the reader to consider why these types of stories are so entertaining and why the mother is more disturbed by the story than her son. This leads to the questioning of the conventions of society, especially the idea of what is considered inappropriate.”

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The Short Stories of Shirley Jackson. (2015, Apr 23). Retrieved September 15, 2019, from
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