Allegories of Modern Life

Gain a new perspective on the trials, joys, and richness of today's world. This study guide collection covers poems, short stories, novels, and plays that serve as parables and fables of modern life. Read on to explore keen insights and real-world connections to ancient tales in iconic stories such as Animal Farm by George Orwell and Lord of the Flies by William Golding — as well as in contemporary reads like Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis. We hope this collection helps you uncover the important moral lessons and hidden meanings within these literary works.

Publication year 1963Genre Play, FictionThemes Society: ColonialismTags Play: Postcolonial, Allegory / Fable / Parable, History: African , Politics / Government, African Literature, Colonialism / Postcolonialism

Written and first performed in 1960 as part of the national celebrations of Nigeria’s independence from Britain, A Dance of the Forests features a unique combination of classically European dramatic elements and traditional Yoruba masquerade traditions which make the play resistant to both staging and traditional Western criticism. Since 1960, few attempts have been made to perform the play, due to its complexity and ambiguity. A Dance of the Forests presents an allegorical criticism of... Read A Dance of the Forests Summary

Publication year 1991Genre Poem, FictionThemes Life/Time: Aging, Relationships: FathersTags Lyric Poem, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Parenting, American Literature

Among Peter Meinke’s most anthologized poems, “Advice to My Son” is best known for its humorous, ironic tone and contemporary interpretation of traditional rhyme structure. First published in 1964 in The Antioch Review, the poem was anthologized in the volume Liquid Paper: New and Selected Poems (1991), published by the Pittsburgh Press. According to Meinke, he had little idea that the poem would so deeply resonate with readers when he first wrote it as a... Read Advice to My Son Summary

Publication year 1955Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Values/Ideas: Fate, Society: Class, Society: Colonialism, Society: Politics & Government, Society: War, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Allegory / Fable / Parable, Classic Fiction, Historical Fiction, WWI / World War I, Military / War

Publication year 2006Genre Graphic Novel/Book, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Society: ImmigrationTags Allegory / Fable / Parable, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Bullying, Race / Racism, History: Asian, Immigration / Refugee, Chinese Literature

American Born Chinese is a graphic novel published in 2006 by the American author and illustrator Gene Luen Yang. Through three interweaving stories that span from the 16th century to the present, the novel explores issues of Chinese American identity, anti-Asian racism, and assimilation. American Born Chinese is the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award. The novel also won both the Printz Award from the American Library Association and the... Read American Born Chinese Summary

Publication year 1921Genre Short Story Collection, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Equality, Identity: GenderTags Historical Fiction, Auto/Biographical Fiction, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Race / Racism, Gender / Feminism

Zitkála-Šá’s 1921 book American Indian Stories gathers autobiographical chapters, fictional stories, and essays focused on the experiences of the Dakota Sioux and interactions between American Indians and White citizens of the United States. Zitkála-Šá’s works convey a strong sense of independence, pride in Sioux culture, and indignation at injustices committed against American Indians. This study guide references the 2019 Modern Library (Penguin Random House) edition of American Indian Stories.SummaryThe collection begins with an autobiographical piece... Read American Indian Stories Summary

Publication year 2001Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Values/Ideas: Safety & DangerTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Children's Literature, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Bullying, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Relationships

Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Among the Impostors is the second book in the Shadow Children series, following Among the Hidden. The titles published after Among the Impostors are Among the Betrayed, Among the Barons, Among the Brave, Among the Enemy, and Among the Free. Haddix is also the author of several other books for young adults and has won several awards for her work. They include the Reading Association Children’s Book Award, ALA Best Books for... Read Among the Impostors Summary

Publication year 2005Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Language, Life/Time: The Past, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Self Help, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Religion / Spirituality

A New Earth: Create a Better Life by Eckart Tolle was originally published in 2005 with the title A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. The book followed in the wake of Tolle’s seminal 1997 work The Power of Now, which discusses the potential inherent in the present moment and suggests that the destructive voice in our heads, which causes us to be constantly dissatisfied and compare ourselves to others, is the ego and... Read A New Earth Summary

Publication year 1945Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Society: CommunityTags Satire, History: European, Politics / Government, Philosophy, Animals, Post-War Era, Allegory / Fable / Parable, British Literature

Published in 1945, Animal Farm by George Orwell (1903-1950) achieved immediate success and remains one of Orwell’s most popular works. A political satire in the guise of a moving and whimsical animal fable, the novella is about a group of farm animals who overthrow their owner, Mr. Jones, and establish animal rule. Although the animals start out with high hopes for Animal Farm as a harmonious and just utopia where “all animals are equal” (19)... Read Animal Farm Summary

Publication year 1941Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Natural World: Environment, Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Values/Ideas: EqualityTags Allegory / Fable / Parable, Race / Racism

Eudora Welty’s short story “A Worn Path” is considered one of the author’s finest works and a classic in the repertory of American Southern literature. First published in 1941 as a stand-alone piece in The Atlantic Monthly, it was also included in her first short story collection, A Curtain of Green and Other Stories, published that same year. The story established Welty as a notable new voice in American literature. In addition to short stories... Read A Worn Path Summary

Publication year 2011Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Relationships: Family, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Society: Education, Natural World: Nurture v. NatureTags Parenting, Asian Literature, Allegory / Fable / Parable

Amy Chua’s memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (2011), depicts Chua’s experience raising two American daughters according to Chinese cultural standards. Chua is a Yale law professor specializing in globalization and ethnic conflict. She is also a second-generation Chinese American, and her husband is Jewish. Chua’s strict approach is influenced by the parenting methods used by her own parents, which clash with those of her husband. Chua’s memoir was a New York Times bestseller... Read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother Summary

Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Natural World: EnvironmentTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Climate Change, Grief / Death, Mental Illness, Science / Nature, American Literature

Publication year 1952Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Life/Time: Aging, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: Fate, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Natural World: Animals, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: GratitudeTags Classic Fiction, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Children's Literature, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Animals

Charlotte’s Web was written by E. B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams, and first published in 1952. It is considered a quintessential American children’s fiction novel and has been adapted into two films (1973, 2006) and a stage musical. Over the years, Charlotte’s Web has been awarded the Newbery Honor Award for children’s books, the George C. Stone Center for Children’s Books Recognition of Merit Award, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and the Massachusetts Children’s... Read Charlotte's Web Summary

Publication year 1583Genre Poem, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Emotions/Behavior: LonelinessTags Free verse, Allegory / Fable / Parable

Publication year 1924Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Values/Ideas: Power & GreedTags Allegory / Fable / Parable

Publication year 1918Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Society: Politics & Government, Society: Community, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Identity: Mental Health, Emotions/Behavior: Apathy, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Classic Fiction, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Mental Illness, Chinese Literature, History: World

Lu Xun's "Diary of a Madman" was first published in China in 1918, during a period of significant cultural and political upheaval in the country. The Qin dynasty, in power since 1644, had recently collapsed from internal and external pressures in the 1912 Xinhai Revolution, marking a dramatic break from the past. New ideas about government, philosophy, and science prompted many Chinese intellectuals to reflect on long-held traditions and look toward a rebirth of the... Read Diary of a Madman Summary

Publication year 2005Genre Play, FictionTags Play: Drama, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Social Justice

Doubt: A Parable is a 2005 play by John Patrick Shanley that analyzes an instance of doubt and suspicion in a Catholic school in the Bronx in the 1960s. In nine scenes, the play tells the story of principal Sister Aloysius’s suspicions about an inappropriate relationship between a priest, Father Flynn, and a young male student.The play opens with Father Flynn giving a sermon, utilizing a parable about a young sailor whose ship sinks and... Read Doubt: A Parable Summary

Publication year 1968Genre Poem, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Identity: Femininity, Values/Ideas: EqualityTags Lyric Poem, African American Literature, Black Arts Movement, Black Lives Matter, Gender / Feminism, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Race / Racism, Mythology

“Ego Tripping,” also known as “Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why),” is one of American poet Nikki Giovanni’s most well-known poems. Giovanni first published this poem in 1972, which is the year that also marks Giovanni’s first trip to Africa, three years after the birth of her son. As the title of the poem suggests, this poem is a fulsome celebration of the many facets of Giovanni’s identity as a Black woman. Written... Read Ego Tripping Summary

Publication year 2018Genre Play, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Play: Drama, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Grief / Death, Philosophy, Religion / Spirituality, American Literature

Everybody, a one-act play by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, premiered Off-Broadway in 2017 at the Signature Theatre and was first published in 2018. It is a modern retelling of Everyman, the most well-known and anthologized example of a medieval morality play, which was adapted from a Dutch play by an anonymous 15th century English writer. Morality plays first appeared in the 12th century, evolving from the Catholic Church’s cycle plays and liturgical dramas, which reenacted biblical scenes... Read Everybody Summary

Publication year 1990Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Relationships: Mothers, Relationships: FamilyTags Allegory / Fable / Parable, Grief / Death, Gender / Feminism

“Friend of My Youth” is the title short story from the collection of the same name by Alice Munro, published in 1990. The collection won the 1990 Trillium Book Award, which recognizes writers from Ontario, Canada.Narrated in the first person, the story is told from the perspective of an unnamed female writer in mourning for her mother, who died some years earlier of Parkinson’s disease. The narrator describes a recurrent dream that she used to... Read Friend of My Youth Summary

Publication year 1862Genre Poem, FictionThemes Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Natural World: Environment, Natural World: Food, Natural World: Nurture v. Nature, Society: Community, Society: Education, Relationships: Siblings, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Win & LoseTags Narrative / Epic Poem, Allegory / Fable / Parable

Enigmatic and strange, English poet Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” has sparked multiple interpretations since its publication in 1862. The poem helped launch her career and expand the Pre-Raphaelite art movement into literature.The long narrative poem centers on Lizzie’s rescue of her sister from an enchantment cast by malicious goblins. Fairy tales and folklore inspired many Victorian writers, who felt weary about England’s increasing industrialization.Often seen as an allegory, scholars have posited that the poem’s characters... Read Goblin Market Summary

Publication year 1975Genre Poem, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Identity: Mental Health, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Relationships: FamilyTags Lyric Poem, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Mental Illness, Gender / Feminism, Arts / Culture, Mythology

Louise Glück is among the most lauded poets in the American canon. Glück’s writing is often surgically precise in terms of formal craft, and reveals a deep emotional complexity. She addresses sadness, mourning, trauma, and individual suffering metaphorically through the natural world, mythology, autobiographical events, or universal truths. She is known for alluding to cultural myths and personas in her work, some of which appear in “Gretel in Darkness” through the perspective of young Gretel... Read Gretel in Darkness Summary

Publication year 1990Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Language, Values/Ideas: Literature, Society: Politics & Government, Natural World: Appearance & RealityTags Magical Realism, Fantasy, Allegory / Fable / Parable, History: Asian

Haroun and the Sea of Stories is a 1990 book for young adults, written by Salman Rushdie. Haroun is the follow-up to Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses, which was deemed blasphemous by the Ayatollah (a high-ranking Iranian clergyman) at the time, who pronounced a death sentence on the author. As a response to the ayatollah’s decree, Haroun explores themes of free speech, the need for storytelling, and the value of fiction.Plot SummaryThe novel begins with... Read Haroun and the Sea of Stories Summary

Publication year 1955Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: LoveTags Christian literature, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Psychology, Religion / Spirituality, Self Help, British Literature

Hannah Hurnard’s 1955 novel Hinds’ Feet on High Places is an allegorical portrayal of purgation, progress, and ascent within the spiritual life. Born to Quaker parents, Hurnard struggled with her faith in her youth but experienced a powerful conversion at the age of 19. In the wake of this newfound inspiration, she gained theological training in England and went on to author almost two dozen books over the course of her life.Of those, Hinds’ Feet... Read Hinds’ Feet on High Places Summary

Publication year 2013Genre Novel, FictionTags Allegory / Fable / Parable

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is a 2013 satirical novel written by Mohsin Hamid. It tells the story of an unnamed narrator in an unconventional format: written from the second person point of view, it is ostensibly a self-help manual that unfolds in novelistic prose. At the beginning of each chapter, the narrator offers a brief discourse on topics as diverse as self-help, memoir, debt, or the reading and writing of literature... Read How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia Summary

Publication year 1977Genre Novel, FictionThemes Self Discovery, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Science & TechnologyTags Philosophy, Religion / Spirituality, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Inspirational

Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah was written in 1977 by American writer Richard Bach and is a philosophical novel that questions the nature of reality. This novel was a follow-up to Bach’s bestseller Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1970), which has similar themes and imagery. Illusions suggests that all of reality is a construct of the imagination and can facilitate or hinder a person on their path to having the life that they want. One... Read Illusions Summary

Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Realistic Fiction, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Race / Racism, Arts / Culture, Diversity, History: U.S., Asian Literature, American Literature

Publication year 1919Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Allegory / Fable / Parable, German literature, Philosophy

“In the Penal Colony” is a short story by Franz Kafka that was written in the German language in 1914. It is an allegorical fantasy set in an unnamed, deserted colony. The story explores themes like the dynamics of Power and Control, the tension between Tradition and Conformity Versus Innovation and Progress, and the consequences of a Lack of Sense of Self and Belonging. The machine is a metaphor for the judicial system, which can... Read In the Penal Colony Summary

Publication year 1970Genre Novella, FictionTags Allegory / Fable / Parable, Modern Classic Fiction

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by author and pilot Richard Bach, is a fable and novella that was originally presented in serialized form in Flying magazine. Bach initially struggled to find a publisher for the full work, but when the book was finally published in 1970, it enjoyed immense popular success; according to Publisher’s Weekly, it was the top-selling book of both 1972 and 1973. All page numbers in this study guide refer to the 1970 Scribner... Read Jonathan Livingston Seagull Summary

Publication year 1927Genre Poem, FictionTags Free verse, Poetry: Dramatic Poem, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Christian literature, Religion / Spirituality, Holidays & Occasions

Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Society: ClassTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Class, Parenting, Science / Nature, Relationships, Futurism

Publication year 1954Genre Novel, FictionTags British Literature, Allegory / Fable / Parable

Lord of the Flies is a 1954 novel by Nobel-prize winning British author William Golding. Golding was knighted in 1988 and was a fellow in the Royal Society of Literature. In 2008, The Times named him third on their list “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945.”The title of Golding’s young-adult fiction novel is a reference to Beelzebub, a prince of hell.During a wartime evacuation, an airplane crashes on a remote island. The only survivors... Read Lord of the Flies Summary

Publication year 2010Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Natural World: Animals, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Life/Time: The Past, Natural World: Place, Relationships: Family, Society: Colonialism, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Humor, Magical Realism, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Fantasy, Realistic Fiction, Addiction / Substance Abuse, Social Justice, Race / Racism, Religion / Spirituality, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 1951Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Society: War, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & AngerTags Romance, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Latin American Literature, Surrealism

“My Life with the Wave” is a surrealist prose poem written by Mexican poet and author Octavio Paz, first published in 1951 as part of Paz’s collection ¿Águila o sol?. The English translation (Eagle or Sun?) by Eliot Weinberger was published in 1976. Paz’s poetry, essays, and prose frequently underscore Mexican identity, culture, and politics, especially during his time as a Mexican diplomat and ambassador. His travels exposed him to surrealism and existentialism, which had... Read My Life With the Wave Summary

Publication year 1627Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Society: Colonialism, Society: NationTags Classic Fiction, Allegory / Fable / Parable, British Literature, Renaissance

New Atlantis is an unfinished novel published posthumously in 1626 by the English philosopher Francis Bacon. It details the customs and culture of a utopian island society known as Bensalem, at the center of which lies a science and research institution called Salomon’s House. The work expresses many of Bacon’s scientific, philosophical, political, and religious ideas, though its unfinished status has made it the subject of intense scholarly debate over the novel’s meaning and themes... Read New Atlantis Summary

Publication year 1944Genre Play, FictionThemes Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Emotions/Behavior: Apathy, Emotions/Behavior: GuiltTags Existentialism, Play: Drama, French Literature, Philosophy, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Relationships

No Exit (1944) is a play by French philosopher, writer, and critic Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre was drafted into the French army during World War II and spent nearly a year as a German prisoner of war. He then wrote and debuted No Exit in Paris while the city was still under German occupation and control. No Exit is comprised of one act which takes place in a single room in the afterlife, which the characters... Read No Exit Summary

Publication year 1624Genre Poem, FictionThemes Society: Community, Life/Time: Mortality & DeathTags Allegory / Fable / Parable, History: European, Relationships, British Literature

Publication year 2001Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Romance, Race / Racism, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Incarceration, Relationships, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Social Justice

Publication year 1993Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Natural World: ClimateTags Allegory / Fable / Parable, Afrofuturism, Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Climate Change

Parable of the Sower is a science fiction novel, the first in author Octavia E. Butler’s two-part series. Butler followed her 1993 publication with Parable of the Talents in 1998. The premier book tells the story of Lauren Oya Olamina, a teenage girl of color growing up in a post-apocalyptic society decimated by climate change. As the book begins, she relates her life in a community near Los Angeles in 2024 with a minister father... Read Parable of the Sower Summary

Publication year 1320Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Self DiscoveryTags Narrative / Epic Poem, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Religion / Spirituality, Philosophy, Medieval Literature / Middle Ages

Paradiso is the third and concluding part of The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri’s three-part epic narrative poem. It completes the allegorical journey initiated by the first two parts, Inferno (Hell) and Purgatorio (Purgatory). Beatrice, who symbolizes Dante’s ideal woman and who had previously accompanied him through the past part of Purgatory, here accompanies him as he journeys through the nine levels or spheres of Heaven, which are represented by various celestial bodies. In each sphere... Read Paradiso Summary

Publication year 1956Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Natural World: Appearance & RealityTags Classic Fiction, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Existentialism

Pincher Martin is a novel by British author William Golding, first published in 1956. Set during World War II, it tells the story of a Royal Navy lieutenant named Christopher Hadley Martin who washes up on an inhospitable islet after his ship sinks. Though nominally a survival story, the book primarily concerns Martin’s spiritual and metaphysical journey as he struggles to maintain his sanity while awaiting rescue.This study guide refers to the 2013 edition published... Read Pincher Martin Summary

Publication year 1983Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Society: Politics & Government, Society: NationTags Magical Realism, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Colonialism / Postcolonialism, Indian Literature

Written by Salman Rushdie in 1983, Shame takes place in a fictionalized version of the city of Quetta in Pakistan. Although several characters are based on historic Pakistani politicians, the novel incorporates elements of magical realism to create a richly nuanced fable whose philosophical message transcends the boundaries of the ordinary. The novel explores themes of Shame Versus Shamelessness, the partition of Pakistan through Partition and Duality, and The Systemic Misogyny of Patriarchal Societies. Shame... Read Shame Summary

Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Disability, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Relationships: FriendshipTags Realistic Fiction, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Children's Literature, Inspirational, Disability, Relationships, Animals

Publication year 1872Genre Poem, FictionTags Allegory / Fable / Parable, Philosophy, Animals, Religion / Spirituality

Publication year 2006Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Society: WarTags Historical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Children's Literature, History: European, History: World, WWII / World War II, Holocaust

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a historical fiction novel published in 2006 by celebrated Irish author John Boyne, known both for his adult and young adult fiction. Set around the World War II concentration camp Auschwitz, the novel combines realism with parable. It portrays a young German boy, Bruno, whose father is commander of the camp, and his unusual and ultimately tragic friendship with a Jewish boy, Shmuel. The work sold over seven... Read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Summary

Publication year 1944Genre Play, FictionThemes Relationships: Mothers, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Society: War, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Play: Drama, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Modernism, German literature

Bertolt Brecht’s celebrated play, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, was written in 1944. The story is structured as a play within a play and touches on themes of justice, motherhood, and moral choices in times of crisis. Brecht, a German playwright best known for his unique style of drama called “epic theater,” was based in the United States at the time, and the play was translated into English by his friend, Eric Bentley. It went on... Read The Caucasian Chalk Circle Summary

Publication year 1911Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Art, Society: Class, Self Discovery, Life/Time: Childhood & YouthTags Action / Adventure, Allegory / Fable / Parable

“The Celestial Omnibus” is a short story by British author E. M. Forster, originally published in 1911 in an anthology titled The Celestial Omnibus and Other Stories. Forster primarily saw success as a novelist, penning classics like A Room with a View (1908) and Howard’s End (1910), but all of his works are similarly preoccupied with issues of class, gender, and intellectual hypocrisy. In its eponymous collection, “The Celestial Omnibus” joins other stories of fantastical... Read The Celestial Omnibus Summary

Publication year 1940Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Relationships: Marriage, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Identity: MasculinityTags Magical Realism, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Humor, Satire, Love / Sexuality, Business / Economics, Relationships, American Literature, Post-War Era

John Collier (1901-1980) is best known for his short stories, many of which are constructed as fantastic parables of modern day life. He also wrote poetry and screenplays, and was a developer for the television show “The Twilight Zone.” “The Chaser” first appeared in his short story collection Fancies and Goodnights, which won the 1952 Edgar Award and the 1952 International Fantasy Award. It is a cautionary parable of love, capitalism, and the wisdom of... Read The Chaser Summary

Publication year 1952Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Self Discovery, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Fantasy, Humor, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Children's Literature, Fairy Tale / Folklore, Bullying

Publication year 1955Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Society: Community, Society: War, Emotions/Behavior: FearTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Fantasy, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Cold War, Post-War Era

The Chrysalids is a young-adult science fiction novel, written by John Wyndham and first published in 1955. Wyndham was a renowned science fiction author of the post-World War II era, and many of his works are thus inspired by a potential nuclear apocalypse. The Chrysalids was well-received by critics and is considered one of Wyndham’s best novels. It was adapted into a BBC radio play in 1982 and a play in 1999.This guide utilizes the... Read The Chrysalids Summary

Publication year 1940Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Art, Society: EducationTags Fantasy, Allegory / Fable / Parable

Jorge Luís Borges’s short story “The Circular Ruins” was originally written in 1939 and was first published under the title “Las ruinas circulares” in the Argentinian literary journal Sur in 1940. By the time “The Circular Ruins” was finally translated into English for American audiences in 1962, Borges was on his way to international renown. In 1961, he was awarded the Prix Formentor (an elite international award), and he traveled to the US to become... Read The Circular Ruins Summary