How would you explain the following passage from "One Hundred Dollars Reward" by O. Henry? "To earn the reward, one must return the rag doll...

How would you explain the following passage from "One Hundred Dollars Reward" by O. Henry? 

"To earn the reward, one must return the rag doll lost, strayed, or stolen from the Millionaire's mansion.
It seemed that grief still
ravaged, unchecked, in the bosom of the too faithful Child. Flip, the
terrier, capered and shook his absurd whisker before her, powerless to
distract. She wailed for her Betsy in the faces of walking, talking,
mama-ing, and eye-closing French Mabelles and Violettes.
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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This passage is describing how attached the child is to her doll and only to that doll.  It is describing how sad she is and how she will accept no substitutes.  The child is "too faithful" because she wants only that doll.

The next part of the quote is talking about how the dog is trying to cheer her up.  He tries to play with her but cannot take her mind off Betsy.

Finally, the last part simply refers to fancier dolls.  The dolls have elegant names and are able to actually do things.  They can open and close their eyes and say "mama."  Betsy is just a rag doll, but the girl still wants her and will not be satisfied by the better dolls.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Like so many small children, the daughter of a millionaire has grown attached to a rag-doll that she has named Betsy. When her little terrier steals the doll and buries it by the corner of a fence, no one can find the doll and the daughter is inconsolable. She will be satisfied by nothing more or less than Betsy.

The Child cried inconsolably, and grew hollow-eyed, knock-kneed, spindling, and corykilverty in many other respects. The Millionaire smiled and tapped his coffers confidently. 

The father thinks that he can console his daughter by purchasing another doll, more beautiful and more expensive.

The pick of the output of the French and German toymakers was rushed by special delivery to the mansion.

However, neither Mabelle or Violette dolls, dolls of incomparable beauty and interesting capabilities, will satisfy or comfort the child (Mabelle means "my pretty" in French and Violette also refers to a beauty). The doctor has been called, but after all his attempts to calm the child, the exhausted doctor suggests that the doll Betsy be found.

As it turns out, a vagrant who walks by the mansion discovers the doll's leg sticking out of the dirt where the dog buried it. When he carries it into a tavern and sets it upon the bar and talks to it, Fuzzy draws attention to himself and amuses people, so he gets some free drinks. But, some other men find the posting of the reward for the doll in a newspaper, and decide that they want the $100.00 reward. When they cannot take the doll away from Fuzzy, they follow him to the millionaire's house where they wait outside for him with lead pipes and such. 

Fortunately for Fuzzy, who starts outside, he changes his mind and goes back inside, insisting upon meeting the mistress of the house in order to extend Christmas cheer to her. During his toast, the mistress recognizes in his wording that he was once a gentleman. So, afterwards, she orders a cab to take Fuzzy wherever he wishes. Fuzzy keeps his reward and escapes his would-be assailants, who wait for him outside.



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