There are many types of short stories, but three in particular that share traits and differ in other ways: parables, fables, and tales.
The difference in tone between parables, fables, and tales are the seriousness which is conveyed in each type of short story, starting with a parable. A parable is the most sanctimonious of all short stories, illustrating a religious or spiritual ideal through the story, (Chea, 2010). In the New Testament, the parable "The Prodigal Son" teaches forgiveness and humility because the son leaves to have a life full of fun but is welcomed home again with open arms after he does not find great success.
A fable, while still wishing to impart a moral to its audience, has less of a severe tone than a parable, often full of witticism and talking animals. Another element of the fable is when the moral of the story is easily stated, like in Aesop’s The Wolff and the Mastiff . After reading it, one can understand that freedom of choice is more desirable than being well-fed and cared for. Likewise, the fable "The Tortoise and the Hare" fully demonstrates the cliche 'slow and steady wins the race'.
Tales differ from parables and fables because they do not necessarily focus on a moral, but rather the events of the story and the emotions the events impart on the reader, (Chea, 2010). Petronius’ The Widow of Ephesus is a tale that causes the reader to feel pity for the widow as she loses one man, only to then cause the reader joy as the widow then gains another lover after having gone through such trials and tribulations.
Chea, S. (2010, February 18). "The different types of short fiction". Retrieved on August 24, 2010, from the Associated Content Database: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2700033/the_different_types_of_short_fiction.html?cat=38