Rumor has it that Ernest Hemingway’s six-word statement is the most famous short story of history. “For sale: baby shoes, never worn”, he once wrote, and this can be dissected a number of different ways –

Who are the characters?
The mom, probably, who is selling the shoes of her stillborn baby. I first thought that the shoes were hand-me-downs, but they have never been used, and in that time, it wasn’t uncommon for miscarriages or babies stillborn.

The setting:
I imagined a roadside, a grubby table with many paraphernalia cluttered upon it. In a dusty corner lies this sign; underneath it are the pink shoes that are still new, a little discolored, I imagine, and soft to the touch. Painful to touch.

The plot:
The intersects with characters. She’s tried for many children, and some have been successful while others have not. This one wasn’t, and she must sell her unwanted belongings to acquire money to feed her large family – many hungry mouths.

The conflict:
I would imagine the mother felt pangs of sadness as she placed her sign and the shoes up for sale. But with the large family and too much to do, the stillborn child wouldn’t reign first in her mind. She needs money more than she needs sadness. It’s hard to survive, but it’s harder to kill the mtoher and her family. She’ll persevere against the conflict of money, thoughts of her baby pushed toward the back of her head.

Themes:
Family is a burden, Trying to give grief away (i.e, the shoes)

I really liked this discussion of this six-word short story in my Creative Writing Class. I wrote one of my own:

She dreamt but could not fly.