17 Thang 6 2014 luc 23:25O. Henry was born under the name William Sidney Porter in Greensboro, North California, in 1862. He was known as an American excellent short-story writer.
His pen name “O. Henry” was used to name an annual American award – The O. Henry Award – given to short stories of exceptional merit. During his whole life, O. Henry wrote approximately 400 stories and poets, reflecting variety of typical features of American society of his time. Through this essay, we would like to analyse the feature “Common people”, which plays a role as a source of inspiration and an essential ingredient that contributes to O.
Henry’s success.O. HENRY – one of the most excellent short-story writer The element “common people” is an essential attribute of O. Henry’s success. O. Henry had never held any important positions in the political system.
His life was strongly connected with ordinary people. Although he wandered across different professions and jobs varying from pharmacy, journalism, drafting to banking, but he was most well known as a short story writer. In fact, experience with common people that he gained from different jobs and living places essentially inspired him to write stories. However, the common people had much more influence on him than that.
They were readers whom he had to serve. The most prolific writing period that brought him both fame and large income began in 1902 when he moved to New York, where he wrote 381 short stories. For over a year, he wrote one story a week for The New York World Sunday Magazine, whose readers were the majority of New York citizens.O. Henry – the writer of common peopleOn the one hand, in reality, the common people were the readers of O. Henry, on the other hand, they also inspired O. Henry to create ordinary characters in his literature works.
The five analyzed short stories namely: A chaparral Prince, A retrieved reformation, The Marionettes, Gift of the Magi and Last Leaf, were built around the life of common people. They were the ordinary workers as their jobs were unskilled, poorly paid but challenging, they also lived in shabby old areas. For example, Della and Jim in Gift of the Magi were casual workers living in “a furnished flat at 8$ per week”, by O. Henry’s remark, was “the mendicancy squad”. In A Chaparral Prince, an “eleven-year old” Lena was a kitchen-maid in the Quarrymen’s Hotel, “a turbulent and depressing hostelry”. Likewise, Sue, Johnsy and old Behrman were the art people living in “squatty”, “low rented” three-story brick” located in a little district.Common people in O.
Henry’s literature worksAlthough O. Henry’s short stories bears some likeness to each other, the feature “common people” helps O. Henry to construct many interesting plots and twist endings. This could be seen clearly through three analyzed stories Chaparral Prince, The Marionettes and The last leave. These stories have the same motif: the good people usually have to suffer from disadvantaged circumstances, from which they are rescued in a surprised way at the end of story. However, the differences can be found in the way that characters are built, by which twist endings are formed.
For instance, playing a role as weaker people, however Lena, Johnsy and Chandler are different in backgrounds. Lena was an eleven-year-old girl, overloaded with the kitchen work of a full-grown woman in a “turbulent and depressing hostelry”. Lena’s thrift father sent her to work in the hotel at the quarries, thirty miles away from her home. Different from Lena, Chandler was a pretty, small, young wife, living in a fine house full of rented property. She had a broken marriage with a brute husband whom O. Henry described as a “gambler-drunkard-spendthrift”. Unlike Chandler and Lena, Johnsy was a young poor artist, living on the top floor of a “squatty, three-story brick”, located in a little district west of Washington Square.
Based on these different backgrounds, O. Henry created difficult situations. The little girl Lena was going to drown herself in a deep place mainly because her Grimm, from which she took fresh courage and strength”, “comfort and hope”, had been taken away. Likewise, Mrs. Chandler was faint and exhausted because of starvation and domestic violence which imprinted a “livid bruise” upon her forehead. Similarly, Johnsy, struck by pneumonia, had “one chance in ten” to live.
Sadly, she had a strange fancy that she would die when the last leaf fell down. To solve the problems, O. Henry created different sorts of “heroes”, who possessed unusual talents, power or attracting appearance. For example, Hondo Bill was compared to a lion. He had “six feet two” in height, “gentle of voice” and “impulsive in action”.
His face was “as rough as a crubbing brush”. He was strong and powerful enough to rescue Lena from the “ogre’s castle” since he was the captain of his robber gang. Likewise, Spencer James was compared to a tiger. He drew attention from readers not only because of his “emotionless, smooth countenance with rather long nose and steady dark eyes”, but also due to his special ability. He was an ingenious safe burglar as well as a successful practitioner. He possessed a sort of mixed specialty of a doctor and a burglar, which enabled him to realize the miserable circumstance of Mrs. Chandler.
A livid bruise upon her forehead was an evidence of a broken marriage. The evidence that made up a strong reason for Spencer to end the life of Mr. Chandler and free his wife – Miss Amy – from an unhappy marriage.
Similarly, in The last leaf, Old Behrman regarded himself as a mastiff-in-waiting to protect Johnsy and Sue. He was a “fierce little old man” with a Michael Angelo’s Moses beard. Unlike Hondo Bill and Spencer James who were “successful” in their “career”, the old Behrman was a failure in art. However, he became a great artist as his painted “ivy leaf on the wall”- the masterpiece – which could save Johnsy from Pneumonia. In short, “the common people” with different personalities, jobs and circumstances were the writing material and a source of inspiration which facilitated O.
Henry to create surprise endings and interesting plots.