Examples of Realism – Short Stories (2023)

In literary realism, authors present people, places and events as they are, striving to make their stories realistic depictions of life rather than artificial ones. The stories often focus on common things and everyday experiences.

Realistic Short Stories

“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin

A woman receives the news that her husband has been killed in a train accident. She processes the news over the next hour, experiencing a range of emotions.

“The Story of an Hour”

“The Lesson” by Tony Cade Bambara

An inner-city class goes on a field trip to an expensive toy store. The children try to understand the differences in people’s wealth. ()

This story can be read in the preview of The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story.(21% in)

“A Perfect Day for Bananafish” by J. D. Salinger

Muriel speaks on the phone with her mother about her husband, Seymour, who has returned from the war. Her mother is worried about Seymour’s driving and his general mental condition. Meanwhile, Seymour is on the beach, where he meets a young girl and tells her about the bananafish.

This story can be read in the preview ofNine Stories.(22% in)

Guess the Short Story #3 (Easy)

(Video) Realistic Fiction Story Reading

Guess the Short Story #3 (Easy)

“Fat” by Raymond Carver

A waitress serves the fattest person she has ever seen. He orders a lot of food and points out that he doesn’t always eat like this. Her coworkers make fun of the man.

This is the first story in the preview ofWill You Please Be Quiet, Please?

“Petrified Man” by Eudora Welty

In a beauty parlor, Leota gossips with her client, Mrs. Fletcher. They cover a lot of subjects including Leota’s boarders, the Pikes; Mrs. Fletcher’s pregnancy; and the traveling freak show in town, featuring the petrified man.

This is the third story in the preview ofThe Collected Stories of Eudora Welty.

“The Outcasts of Poker Flat” by Bret Harte

In an effort to improve their town, the citizens of Poker Flat expel a group of undesirables from their midst. They set out for the next settlement, making a difficult mountain journey. On the way, they meet up with a couple headed for Poker Flat, who share some provisions and direct them to a cabin to rest.

This is the first story in the preview ofBig Book of Best Short Stories: Western.

“A White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewett

Nine-year-old Sylvia lives in the country and has a strong connection to animals and nature. One day a young man, a hunter, comes through the area and stays with Sylvia and her grandmother. He is looking for a rare heron to add to his collection.

This story can be read in the preview of A White Heron and Other Stories.

“Alyosha the Pot” by Leo Tolstoy

Alyosha isn’t good at school and doesn’t say much. From childhood to the age of nineteen, he works hard on his family’s farm. His older brother works for a merchant, but is drafted into the army. Alyosha’s father sends him to take his brother’s place at the merchant’s. He’s a willing worker, completing all his brother’s tasks and more. The family continues to add more and more work to his schedule. He is burdened and mistreated, but he bears it well.

This is the third story in the preview ofClassic Short Stories.(37% in)

“My Old Man” by Ernest Hemingway

The narrator tells the story of being with his father in Italy and France when he worked as a jockey. His father had an argument with some people after winning a race in Italy. In France he eventually buys his own horse to train and ride.

(Video) DREAM {Award Winning Magical Realism Short Film} Black & White / Color

This is the third story in the preview of100 Years of the Best American Short Stories.

“The Sisters” by James Joyce

Father Flynn has had his third stroke and is paralyzed. A boy walks by his home each night looking at the light in the window. It’s even and faint—not the reflection of candles that would indicate he had died. When he goes down for supper, his uncle and aunt are talking to a visitor, Mr. Cotter. He thinks there was something unusual about Father Flynn, but doesn’t get specific about it. The boy’s uncle breaks the news that the priest has died.

This story can also be read in the preview ofDubliners.(10% in)

“Shiloh” by Bobbie Ann Mason

Leroy has been off work for four months since getting hurt. His wife, Norma Jean, supports them both by working at a drugstore. Leroy is glad to be home with his wife, but he’s worried that she’s drawing away from him—maybe his presence reminds her of their son who died as a baby.

This story can be read in the preview ofShiloh & Other Stories.

“All the Years of Her Life” by Morley Callaghan

Alfred, an adult, is caught stealing from his place of work, a drugstore. His boss calls his mother in to talk before calling the police, and she persuades him not to take the matter further. Alfred is fired.

“Life in the Iron Mills” by Rebecca Harding Davis

Hugh lives in poverty and works at a foundry. His cousin, Deborah, works long hours at a cotton mill. Despite doing physical, demanding, and uncreative work, Hugh has an artist’s sensibility, sculpting in his free time. One evening, an opportunity arises for Deborah to better their situation.

This longer story is one of the earliest examples of realism in American literature.

“In the Middle of the Fields” by Mary Lavin

An unnamed, recently widowed woman lives in Ireland on her farm. The grass on her farm needs trimming, so Ned, an old farm hand, suggests hiring a neighbor, Mr. Crossen, to do the job.

“Playing with Dynamite” by John Updike

Fanshawe is in his sixties and has slowed down a lot. His wife is a bit younger and spryer. The narrator gives us a look at Fanshawe’s childhood, middle years, his marriage, and how his attitude about life has developed.

“Black is My Favorite Color” byBernard Malamud

Nat Lime, a Jewish bachelor, is drawn to African-American people. He thinks about his experiences with them, which never seemed to go the way he wanted.

“A Wagner Matinee” by Willa Cather

Clark gets a visit from his aunt, Georgiana, who’s in town on business. He thinks of how hard she has worked in her life. He takes her to a Wagner concert, and wonders if she’ll be able to appreciate it.

“Souvenir” by Jayne Anne Phillips

Every year, Kate sends her mother a Valentine’s Day card, timed to arrive exactly on February 14th. This year she has forgotten. She calls her mother that evening instead. The next day she finds out that her mother is in the hospital.

(Video) Magical Realism In 6 Minutes: Literary Fantasy or Fantastic Literature? 📚

“Swimming Lessons” by Rohinton Mistry

Kersi lives in an apartment complex in Toronto and compares it to a housing complex he remembers from India. He writes letters to his parents back home. Kersi fantasizes about women but doesn’t have any real contact with them. He signs up for swimming lessons.

“Seventeen Syllables” byHisaye Yamamoto

Rosie’s mother, Tome Hayashi, has been writing haikus and submitting them to a daily newspaper that publishes some once a week. Until the dinner dishes were done, Tome did the housework and helped with the tomato harvest, along with the hired Mexican family, the Carrascos. Afterward, she would write at the table, sometimes until midnight. When there’s company, Tome talks poetry with the interested party and her husband talks to the other. Rosie has become friends with the Carrasco boy, Jesus, who goes to the same school as her. Both mother and daughter have significant experiences.

“In the Zoo” by Jean Stafford

A visit to a zoo reminds two sisters of a childhood friend, an alcoholic with a lot of animals, who gave them a puppy. Their foster mother had a bad effect on the dog.

“I Want to Live!” by Thom Jones

Mrs. Wilson finds out she has uterine and breast cancer. It’s also an irregular kind of cancer that will complicate the treatment. Her doctor is good but lacks bedside manner. She thinks about her options and copes with her ordeal.

“George Thurston” by Ambrose Bierce

Thurston is a first Lieutenant in a Federal brigade. He’s not generally liked. The narrator, a topographical engineer, is busy with his work. Thurston joins him on a hazardous expedition. When they encounter an opposing regiment, Thurston reacts in an unusual way.

Read“George Thurston”

“A Piece of Steak” by Jack London

Tom King is an aging prize-fighter preparing for a bout. He doesn’t have a sparring partner or enough food to be at his best. Money is tight and the tradesmen won’t give him credit anymore. He needs the win bonus from his next fight for himself, his wife and his kids.

Read “A Piece of Steak”

“A Temporary Matter” by Jhumpa Lahiri

Shoba had a miscarriage six months ago, three weeks before she was due. She and her husband Shukumar get a notice from the electric company saying their power will be off for an hour for five consecutive evenings. While eating in candlelight, they decide to play a game where they will reveal something previously kept secret from each other.

Read here

“The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien

A narrator details the items that a regiment of soldiers carry with them, giving insight into their characters.

Read here(Pages 1 – 10)

“Gooseberries” by Anton Chekhov

Nicolai wants his own farm with gooseberry bushes where he can live out his life. He makes it his entire focus; he becomes stingy and marries an old, wealthy widow whom he has no feelings for.

(Video) Magical Realism in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Stories

Read “Gooseberries”

“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates

A rebellious fifteen-year-old girl encounters an older man in a parking lot. He later shows up at her place when she’s home alone to ask her to go for a ride with him.

Read“Where Are You Going . . .”

“A New England Nun” by Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman

Louisa Ellis has lived alone a long time and is used to doing things her own way. Fourteen years ago, she promised to marry Joe Dagget when he returned from seeking his fortune in Australia. Joe returns and it’s time to fulfill her promise.

Read “A New England Nun”

“Janus” by Anne Beattie

Andrea, a successful real estate agent, has a favorite bowl that she displays in homes she is selling. She feels the bowl is responsible for her success.

Read “Janus”(scroll down slightly)

“Editha” by W. D. Howells

Editha has read about the Spanish-American war in the papers. She has a romantic view of the war, and feels that her fiancé, George, should join the effort. George is against war, but he gets swept up in the fervor at a meeting, and enlists.

Read here

“A Simple Heart” by Gustave Flaubert

After an early romantic disappointment, Felicite is hired as a housekeeper by Madame Aubain. Her work is exemplary and she loves the Aubain children very much. When the daughter takes catechism lessons and her first communion, Felicite becomes involved in religion.

Read here

“The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck

Elisa is in the garden working on her chrysanthemums when a traveler pulls in looking for work. They develop a rapport and she pays him to do a little job. He expresses interest in her flowers.

Read “The Chrysanthemums”

(Video) Magic Realism in Cinema

“A Dead Woman’s Secret” by Guy de Maupassant

A dead woman’s adult children, a judge and a nun, sit vigil and read her old letters. She died peacefully. She instilled in them a strict moral code which has greatly influenced their lives. They read some of their mother’s old letters, uncovering a secret from her past.

Read “A Dead Woman’s Secret”

I’ll keep adding realistic short fiction as I find more stories.


What are some examples of realism? ›

Realism Art Examples
  • Rejecting Romantic ideals.
  • Representing subjects “as they were”
  • Focusing on everyday people, settings, and situations.
  • Responding to a new national emphasis on French workers.
Jun 5, 2022

What is an example of a realistic story? ›

A popular example from the realistic fiction genre would be The Fault in our Stars by John Green, a book about a teenage girl struggling with cancer. In this regard, it is fiction about something set in real life, in a manner that readers can identify or empathize with.

Which short story contains an example of magic realism? ›

Beautiful Monsters” by Eric Puchner. This piece from Last Day on Earth by Eric Puchner is a great example of magical realism short stories: humans have become immortal Perennials, but in order to do so, they have to remain children forever.

What is realism in short story? ›

What are the elements of Realism in literature? Realism is characterized by the use of realistic characters over a complicated plot. Elements of Realism include the focus of social issues, struggles of everyday life, truths of everyday life, and focus on mostly middle- and lower-class people.

What is an example of realism in a sentence? ›

He has a sense of realism about what can be done to improve the economy.

What movie is an example of realism? ›

Shutter Island – which is a novel written by Dennis Lehane and adapted to the cinema by writer Laeta Kalogridis and director Martin Scorsese – is a great example of psychological realism in film.

What is an example of realism in literature? ›

William Dean Howells's The Rise of Silas Lapham, Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage, and Horatio Alger, Jr.'s Ragged Dick all depict realistic characters from various pockets of American life as they grapple with war, racism, materialism, and upward mobility.

How do you write a realist short story? ›

5 Keys to Writing a Realistic Story
  1. Use a setting you know. That means writing about areas that you know, that you've actually been to and spent time in, if it's not where you live. ...
  2. Listen to the way people talk. ...
  3. Base characters on real people. ...
  4. Observe people and the way they interact. ...
  5. Give your character friends.
Nov 6, 2014

How do you write a realism story? ›

7 Tips for Writing Realistic Characters
  1. Draw from real life. ...
  2. Incorporate flaws. ...
  3. Include mannerisms. ...
  4. Give the character motivation. ...
  5. Write realistic dialogue. ...
  6. Include relationships with supporting characters. ...
  7. Develop your characters.
Sep 6, 2021

How is the story of an hour an example of realism? ›

"The Story of an Hour" shows realism because it depicts how some married women felt during the 1890s about married life. The story reveals married women's mixed feelings about married life by exploring the conflicting feelings that Mrs. Mallard feels when she finds out that her husband has died in a train accident.

What is an example of realistic fiction for kids? ›

Wonder by R.J.

The story follows Auggie through his fifth-grade year as he makes friends, deals with bullying, and shows the school what a wonder he really is. It demonstrates how, as my friend who teaches elementary school put it, “Kids adapt!”

Is Harry Potter an example of magical realism? ›

The examples of magical realism in Harry Potter run rampant. The mere fact that the entire Wizarding World exists underneath the everyday lives of Muggles (non-magic folk) connects the magic going-ons of Harry's new world to the realities of the world he knew before receiving his Hogwarts letter.

What are the 4 types of realism? ›

What are the types of realism in international relations?
  • Classical realism.
  • Liberal realism.
  • Neorealism.
  • Neoclassical realism.
Oct 1, 2021

What are the 5 characteristics of realism? ›

Realism Characteristics
  • Detail. Detail is that special something, that je ne sais quoi that sets Realism apart from other literary schools. ...
  • Transparent Language. ...
  • Omniscient Narrator. ...
  • Verisimilitude. ...
  • The Novel. ...
  • The Quotidian. ...
  • Character. ...
  • Social Critique.

What are the three types of realism? ›

realist thought can be divided into three branches: human nature realism, state-centric realism and system-centric realism.

What is an example of realism in education? ›

Field Trip: Realism is in favour of learning by direct experiences. Realism discourages rote learning and bookish knowledge and prefers hands-on experience for the purpose of learning. It gives importance on field trips which facilitate learners to correlate classroom learning with reality.

How do you explain realism to a child? ›

Realism in the arts refers to accurate and detailed depictions of life and its problems—whether in painting, literature, drama, or film. This does not mean that the arts must be photographic: a painting of an individual showing true character can be more realistic than a photograph.

What is realism in everyday life? ›

Realism focused on the truthful treatment of the common, average, everyday life. Realism focuses on the immediate, the here and now, the specific actions and their verifiable consequences. Realism seeks a one-to-one relationship between representation and the subject. This form is also known as mimesis.

Is Toy Story magical realism? ›

Several epic Marvel films, dramas like Yesterday, and even Toy Story and Incredibles series, – all of them take places in real life, in realistic places, maybe even somewhere by your house.

What is a realistic fiction movie? ›

Contemporary/Realistic: Realistic fiction creates imaginary characters and situations that depict our world and society. It focuses on themes of growing up and confronting personal and social problems. This genre portrays characters coming to understand themselves and others.

What is realism in television? ›

In general, audiences are thought to perceive media content as realistic if they judge it to be like real life in some meaningful way or if they respond to it as though it were real.

What is realism in American literature? ›

American Realism was a style in art, music and literature that depicted contemporary social realities and the lives and everyday activities of ordinary people. The movement began in literature in the mid-19th century, and became an important tendency in visual art in the early 20th century.

What is an example of a short story? ›

Examples: "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe is in the horror genre; "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov is science fiction; "What is Remembered" by Alice Munro is romance and literary fiction.

What are the 4 elements of realistic stories? ›

The four elements necessary for your story structure are character, plot, setting, and tension.

What is a characteristic of a realistic short story? ›

Effective sentence structure and correct spelling, grammar, and usage. A realistic short story also includes: Characters, setting, and dialogue that seem real and a plot that could actually happen. A contemporary setting that most readers recognize.

How can one tell if a story has the element of realism? ›

Characteristics of Realistic Fiction

Characters are involved in events that could happen. Characters live in places that could be or are real. The characters seem like real people with real issues solved in a realistic way (so say goodbye to stories containing vampires, werewolves, sorcerers, dragons, zombies, etc.).

What are the elements of realism? ›

Realism's emphasis on detachment, objectivity, and accurate observation, its lucid but restrained criticism of social environment and mores, and the humane understanding that underlay its moral judgments became an integral part of the fabric of the modern novel during the height of that form's development.

How did Kate Chopin use realism? ›

Kate Chopin's 1899 novella, The Awakening, employs realist techniques to depict the awakening of its protagonist, Edna Pontellier to her own individuality outside the roles of wife and mother. In keeping with realism, the novel centers on ordinary people leading ordinary lives.

What is realistic stories for children? ›

Definition. Contemporary Realistic Fiction consists of stories rooted in reality (could actually happen) but the characters are fictionalized. Nothing in the story connects itself to a time or event in history, but focuses on problems facing children's lives today such as divorce, a new sibling,or teen issues.

What is the most popular topic in realistic fiction? ›

Friendships, love, sex, relationships, cliques, school, growing up, family issues, and leaving for college are all common themes in realistic novels for teens. Often, realistic fiction focuses on solving problems, voyages (sometimes literal ones) of self-discovery, and coming of age.

Is Diary of a Wimpy Kid realistic fiction? ›

"Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a satirical realistic fiction novel by Jeff Kinney. It is the first book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. The book is about a boy named Greg Heffley and his struggles in middle school."

What is a good example of magical realism? ›

For example, Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis—a novel with themes that today's critics would consider to be magical realism—was published in 1915, a decade before Roh wrote about magic realism and well before the genre emerged in Latin American literature.

Is Coraline an example of magic realism? ›

Gaiman's Coraline plunges into the field of magical realism and creates an example of the genre in the realm of children's literature.

Is Matilda magical realism? ›

Roald Dahl is one such eminent writer of the twentieth century. He is known to be one of the best story-tellers of the century. Dahl's works are known for its dark humour and unexpected endings. His novel Matilda is one of the finest example of the technique called magical realism.

What are the 2 types of realism? ›

Realism is a broad tradition of thought that comprises a variety of different strands, the most distinctive of which are classical realism and neorealism.

What are 3 elements of realistic fiction? ›

Characteristics of Realistic Fiction

Realistic fiction stories tend to take place in the present or recent past. Characters are involved in events that could happen. Characters live in places that could be or are real.

What is realism in writing? ›

Literary realism is a literary movement that represents reality by portraying mundane, everyday experiences as they are in real life. It depicts familiar people, places, and stories, primarily about the middle and lower classes of society.

What is a popular example of American realism literature? ›

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

The Red Badge of Courage is certainly Stephen Crane's best-known work. It was published in 1895 and described the American Civil War.

Is realism a genre or style? ›

Literary realism is a literary genre, part of the broader realism in arts, that attempts to represent subject-matter truthfully, avoiding speculative fiction and supernatural elements.

What are the main types of realism? ›

realist thought can be divided into three branches: human nature realism, state-centric realism and system-centric realism.

What are 3 qualities of realism? ›

Realism's emphasis on detachment, objectivity, and accurate observation, its lucid but restrained criticism of social environment and mores, and the humane understanding that underlay its moral judgments became an integral part of the fabric of the modern novel during the height of that form's development.

What are realism activities in the classroom? ›

Realism and Education

This involves teaching methodologies that have students doing and experiencing things rather than just listening. This can include such activities as field trips, group work, projects etc. On a darker side, a realist teacher may believe that students are a product of their environment.

What are the example of social realism? ›

The iconic painting American Gothic by Grant Wood and the photograph Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange are often referred to as exemplar pieces of Social Realism art. Social Realism was an art movement brought on by the Industrial Revolution in Europe and the Great Depression in America.

What is realism in art and example? ›

It is a style of art which uses realistic depictions of the human figure, nature, and events in order to portray reality as accurately as possible. Realism is also known as naturalism or veristic realism, and it can take many forms, such as landscape painting, portraiture or still life.


1. Plato’s Allegory of the Cave - Alex Gendler
2. The Case for Realism
(The Art Assignment)
3. THE LADY NOT CHOSEN (Magical Realism Performance Task)
4. Salman Rushdie on Magical Realism: True Stories Don't Tell the Whole Truth | Big Think
(Big Think)
5. Realistic Fiction
(Teach With Mrs. J.)
6. Realism - Art Movement (Discussion) | Ore Cañete


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