As you read this collection of the best of O. Henry's short stories, keep the following points in mind:
The Depiction of Poverty and Wealth
- Having no money is not indicative of being poor.
- There is a kind of nobility, even in the most poverty-stricken lives.
- For a few, one tragedy will lead to another.
- O. Henry usually portrays poverty sympathetically and condemns the forces that cause it.
- Money is no barrier when it comes to love.
- New York City and its surroundings near the beginning of the 20thcentury
- Texas, or the West, at the turn of the century
- ordinary people in menial jobs struggling to survive
- con men who derive their income from swindling innocent victims
- people, both rich and poor, caught up by circumstances beyond their control
- O. Henry's sympathetic portrayal of his characters
- immigrants or first-generation Americans
- the underdog
- self-sacrificing heroes
- dialects and slang
- digressions and asides to the reader
- the use of simile, metaphor, personification, and allusion
- puns, malapropisms, and excessive vocabulary used for humor
- lightheartedness and sensitivity
- If love is even slightly dishonest, it will fail.
- Love is available to everyone.
- True love is more valuable than money and will conquer nearly any evil.
- Love is frequently unexpected.