This study guide will help you analyse the short story “Examination Day” by Henry Slesar. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it.
Presentation of the text
Title: “Examination Day” (1958)
Author: Henry Slesar
Genre: Short story
Henry Slesar (1927-2002) was an American writer, playwright, and copywriter. He is known for his use of irony and his twist endings. A prolific writer of short fiction, Slesar also wrote many scripts for soap-operas and several television series, and had a successful long-term collaboration with famous English film director Alfred Hitchcock. The short story “Examination Day” was first published in American magazine Playboy.
Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide:
The story “Examination Day” by Henry Slesar follows Dickie Jordan, a boy who lives in a futuristic society in which the government requires all children to take an intelligence test once they turn 12 years old. The title of the short story, “Examination Day” is relatively straightforward, as it suggests that the story will deal with an examination. However, readers are likely to expect that passing the exam is a good thing; in reality, the plot twist at the end of the story reveals that doing well in the exam actually results in a death sentence, as the government wants to eliminate citizens who are too intelligent.
While readers might expect the story to describe only the events that happen during examination day, the first part of the story actually takes place a week beforehand, on Dickie’s birthday. This is the first time Dickie learns about the mandatory examination he will undertake. However, as they are tense about the subject, his mother and father give him little detail on what the examination entails.