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Reading literature is a significant aspect of the educational process since, in addition to studying certain scientific disciplines, it is essential to broaden outlook. Learning to think widely to have an idea of the language richness and the ways of expressing ideas is the trait of an intelligent person. This work is aimed at describing several short stories in the fiction genre, which are desirable readings for the curriculum.
Each of the sources has its own aesthetic uniqueness, which reflects the authors’ vision of a particular problem. The writers of different ethnic backgrounds are involved, which is an incentive to pay attention to their works. Social and other issues addressed in these stories are relevant today, and by analyzing the submitted works, it is possible to gain valuable experience, thereby increasing personal learning performance. One of the goals of the college is to encourage students to consider curriculum tasks critically, and the sources cited may help. In general, students should evaluate these fictional stories in order to form individual creative preferences and study the approaches to the presentation of social, moral, and other issues in small literary pieces.
List of Stories
As one of the first recommendations, the story by Kristen Roupenian “Cat Person” may be proposed since this work, as Lyall argues, presents the classical theme of a love story interpreted in a modern way. The genre of modern realism described with the help of such techniques as youth slang, the use of contemporary household items and the means of communication, and other methods will surely be close to students.
Moreover, readers will certainly show interest in other works of a similar genre because the plot of the story in question largely overlaps with classic narratives about love and parting. As Garber notes, the ambiguity that permeates “Cat Person” is one of the most successful techniques used by the author. In general, the resonance with modern society is observed not only from a practical but also ideological point of view, which is an additional incentive to study this work. As a result, a rather vivid and emotional narrative can help to draw students’ attention to certain nuances of the surrounding reality and revise some morality dogmas promoted today.
The science fiction story “Saving the World: Analog” by James Gunn is quite an unexpected work, which is perhaps one of its main virtues. The topic of the near future is the object of many writers’ reasoning. Authors, as a rule, operate in two genres – utopia and anti-utopia. Gunn uses an unusual approach and includes personal thoughts and hypotheses about science fiction literature as a separate genre and seeks to show how unique the power of the human idea may be.
Reading “Saving the World: Analog” will be interesting to students of different specialists since, in this story, technical, philosophical, social, and other issues intersect, thus creating an unusual plot. Therefore, the benefit of such comprehensive self-development is one of the key reasons for including the work in the list of selected ones.
The bright and fascinating story of social equality is told in “American SF and the Other” by Ursula Le Guin. In her science fiction work, the author reveals the serious problems of human relationships through the prism of the future with such classical attributes as aliens, colonized planets, and other fantastic techniques (Le Guin 208). However, behind this futuristic concept, a clear attempt to reflect modern society with its main flaws lies, in particular, intolerance and class inequality.
According to Meyer, Le Guin uses the chosen genre to the full to show her concern about the behavior that is considered the norm today. “American SF and the Other” could be a useful reading due to the possibility of uncovering acute social issues from a non-standard standpoint by utilizing connotations and metaphors. Therefore, this story should be included in the list mandatory to study and analyze.
The theme of family relationships is a significant aspect of individual development at the stage of receiving higher education. Therefore, the short story “The Escape,” written by John L’Heureux, can be useful reading as part of students’ familiarization with this social topic. The story told in the third person immerses the reader into the fast rhythm of the life of a married couple, which, however, is presented in detail.
Periodic references and appeals to God serve as the technique that allows looking at this or that situation from the outside and making competent decisions. Reading this work may help develop a sense of responsibility for decisions made, respect for loved ones, and the importance of understanding one another. The author who passed away not long ago managed to introduce a special style into the genre of everyday prose, thereby creating a kind and heartfelt plot (L’Heureux). Thus, “The Escape” can be a story that will be interesting to study alone, drawing valuable insights and learning from the reading.
In order to distinguish between necessary and important documentation from obvious bureaucratic surpluses welcomed by some officials, one should pay attention to the story “Novostroika” written by Maria Reva. The work in the genre of realism reveals many facets of humans, including greed, indifference, immorality, and other vices that force people to commit harsh actions. The author does not seek to embellish the story with characters’ vivid images; on the contrary, all the scenes reflect despondency and dullness, which depress but, at the same time, make one think (Reva).
Using such a story as part of the college curriculum can be useful in view of the morality that readers can learn by drawing corresponding conclusions. Despite the fact that “Novostroika” describes the events in one of the Ukrainian settlements, the situations presented with the bureaucracy of officials and indifference to human problems may be found in different places. Therefore, for educating a morally healthy person, this story can be valuable for reading.
The story of the man confronted with human incomprehension and indifference is presented in “Toward Happy Civilization” by Samanta Schweblin. The genre of comedy characters presented to the reader makes it possible to appreciate the wealth and the fullness of the relationship among strangers in a single territory. The imagery to which Schweblin resorts in the plot may be associated with real-life when a person strives to achieve the desired goal but cannot move forward because of others’ stubbornness or hypocrisy.
The story teaches not to stop and show perseverance, which, in particular, is one of the most significant objects in the educational process. “Toward Happy Civilization” can help students understand that diligence will be rewarded sooner or later, and the efforts made sincerely will bear fruit. Therefore, this work is a valuable story from the standpoint of the moral education of the individual and motivation to actions aimed at a positive result.
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The story “The Match” by Colson Whitehead is probably the most socially-oriented of all the submitted works. There are little imagery and few connotations here; on the contrary, the author resorts to the most realistic reflection of reality, and the genre of social drama is manifested (Whitehead). The apparent confrontation of black and white boys is not the hidden implication of racial divisions that are typical for modern society.
The only literary tool that emphasizes the central idea of the story is the symbolism that is present in almost every scene. In “The Match,” the black population is viewed as that from a lower social class, and “juvenile offenders, wards of the state, orphans, runaways,” and other ambiguous personalities are described (Whitehead). The reason for including this story in the curriculum is an opportunity to look from the outside at racial intolerance as one of the social flaws and to draw adequate conclusions regarding interaction among people. Therefore, this work may take place on the list of recommended literature for learning.
Social, moral, and other issues addressed in the reviewed fiction stories may be useful for introducing them in the college curriculum. Students will receive valuable information about the problems of personal development, interaction with loved ones and strangers and will find information about how to reflect personal transfer ideas. In general, the practical significance of the proposed readings is sufficiently high due to the authors’ non-standard approaches and vivid and memorable plots.
Garber, Megan. “’Cat Person’ and the Impulse to Undermine Women’s Fiction.” The Atlantic. 2017. Web.
Gunn, James. “Saving the World: Analog” Analog Science Fiction & Fact, vol. 136, no. 1/2, 2016, p. 84-87.
Le Guin, Ursula K. “American SF and the Other.” Science Fiction Studies, 1975, pp. 208-210.
L’Heureux, John. “The Escape.” The New Yorker. 2019. Web.
Lyall, Sarah. “Show and Tell.” The New York Times Book Review. 2018. Web.
Meyer, Lily. “Science Fiction’s Preoccupation With Privacy.” The Atlantic. 2019. Web.
Reva, Maria. “Novostroika.” The Atlantic. Web.
Schweblin, Samanta. “Toward Happy Civilization.” The Atlantic. Web.
Whitehead, Colson. “The Match.” The New Yorker. 2019. Web.