Example of a Short Story: "Those Days of Being a Jew - The Old, the Young, and the Weak"

EssayCreative Writing
Jan 3, 2007

Learning how to write a short story is, believe it or not, more challenging than writing a full-length. This is because you need to squeeze all the elements of a short story into less than a thousand words. Some short stories can be as long as 1,500 words, while some may be expressed in such a few words. For instance, Ernest Hemingway wrote what is thought to be the shortest story:

"For sale: baby shoes. Never worn."

As mentioned, writing a short story can be difficult because of the limited room to introduce the characters, setting, plot, and other elements. However, what is good about short stories is that you can allow your readers to make use of their imagination. In the case of Hemingway's 6-word story, the readers are given the freedom to make assumptions as to why the baby shoes were never worn. Did the child perish? Was the child taken away? But, one thing is for sure - these six words were able to invoke an emotion than any other full-length story can do.

Here is another example of a short story:

Those Days of Being a Jew: "The Old, the Young, and the Weak"

The old...

There is a sting on the right side of my abdomen, and it hurts a lot more than it did two nights ago. This is what all I could think of as I reached for my pair of dirty striped trousers. I need to work, I told myself grasping for a rusty handle to keep myself up. There is so much to do. You see, I was working in a grocer, so having a lot of things to do is not new to me. This awful sting, however, is new. I checked for wounds, and there is none, but I feel like wanting to throw my guts out for a while so I can just work. There is so much to do. I cannot have nothing to do. I need to do something. Anything. But then, I just can’t remain standing.

So these fellow men wearing the same trousers as mine helped me up and walked me to the shower room.

The young...

My mum… I cannot find her in here. They took me from her, and all she was screaming was “no”, over and over. I do not know what is happening, I do not know why I have to be in here. I am with a lot of men with silver hair. I squeezed through them hoping to see grampa. You see, grampa has silver hair too, and the friends of the big men who took me from mum earlier were also the ones who said grampa needs to take a shower, I think. I did not ask mum, but I am sure it is because his hair is silver. I need to find him so I can tell him that there has been a mistake.

My hair is not silver, it is black. I am sure it is black, that is why I am not supposed to be here.

and the weak...

I cannot believe my eyes. There is not just one little boy in here, there are children. I know what this is, but my knees are too tired to tell the others. I just want to sit down and wait for it to happen. But, there are kids. Why these kids?

Maybe this is just a shower after all. I could really use a nice warm shower, this cold is killing me.

As you can see, this short story just focused on three characters and their perspectives on a similar object: the shower. Although there was no beginning, climax, or end, there is a clear reference to the setting given the context clues such as being old, young, and weak, the striped trousers, and the shower per se. Given these clues, considering that the reader has enough knowledge about the holocaust, it can easily be deducted that this short story is about the hypothetical experiences of the Nazi victims.

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