I'm trying to find a short story titled "The Girl" that I remember reading in my high school english class. It was set at a school in an Orwellian future dystopia where the students and teachers all wore masks to conceal their individuality (similar to the ballerinas in Kurt Vonnegut's story "Harrison Bergeron", or the children in the song "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2" from the film "Pink Floyd's The Wall"), students were identified by their ID number instead of their name, and every desk was fitted with an alarm that would buzz if a student showed any unexpected brain activity that might be indicative of unauthorized independent thought (an offense which resulted in an instant reprimanding from the teacher). The story was obviously inspired by George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four", as well as the 1966 University of Texas shooting, as the story climaxes with the Girl climbing to the top of a bell tower and shooting people with a sniper rifle (at one point she shoots the mask off of one of the teachers and is horrified to discover that his face had conformed to the features of the mask). I seem to remember that the author was a woman who wrote the story when she was in high school in the late 70s or early 80s, because we had a class discussion about how a student would never be able to write such a story these days without getting paid a visit from the school psychologist and possibly the police. Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the author, and the title of the story is pretty generic so my google searches always turn up with nothing of relevance. Any help with locating this story would be greatly appreciated.

  • One of these, possibly; isfdb.org/cgi-bin/se.cgi?arg=the+girl&type=Fiction+Titles
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 13:16
  • I don't think so. I seem to remember that the author was a woman who wrote the story when she was in high school in the late 70s or early 80s. I am almost 100% sure that the title was "The Girl" with no subtitles or anything like that, and it was definitely in the form of a short story. None of the works in that list you provided seem to meet all these criteria.
    – android927
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 13:38
  • I read somewhere that the story was featured in a compilation titled "Shadows in the Light: Selections From Scholastic Writing Awards", but I can't find any information on exactly what stories/authors are presented in this compilation so i can't confirm this.
    – android927
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 13:55
  • This review suggests that another story in the same compilation "The Bell Tower" was about a school shooting; ask.metafilter.com/249038/…
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 14:03

1 Answer 1


Per your comment, the story found in Shadows in the Light: Selections From Scholastic Writing Awards was "The Girl" by Christine Pasanen.

You can read some incomplete snippets here on google books.

... attends class, but after fifth class, what persuades such an ordinary student to go to the old school tower with a loaded rifle?

Interestingly, this review calls out another story that's supposedly in the same collection named "The Bell Tower" that also deals with a school shooting, however it's not listed in the contents as far as I can tell.


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