How can we explain the point of view in O.Henry's "The Cop and the Anthem"?  

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The point of view in O. Henry's short story "The Cop and the Anthem" is third-person omniscient. The story is told in the third person (as Soapy, the main character, is referred to by his name rather than with "I," or the first person). The narrator is omniscient because the story reveals not only Soapy's movements but also his innermost thoughts. For example, O. Henry writes, "Soapy’s mind now realized the fact. The time had come. He had to find some way to take care of himself during the cold weather." The narrator has access to what Soapy is thinking and to his motivations. For example, the narrator knows that Soapy hopes to spend three months on Blackwell's Island in a prison to escape the cold weather, and the narrator understands that Soapy does not want to go to a city shelter because they will pry and ask him questions about his life. Only an omniscient or all-knowing narrator could understand these details about Soapy. 

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The point of view in O. Henry's humorously ironic short story, "The Cop and the Anthem" is omniscient narrator.  The narrator tells the story in third person, but he is also aware of all the thoughts and feelings of any of the characters.  This use of omniscient narrator is effective for O. Henry as he was a very well-traveled man who met characters from all walks of life.

The use of omniscient narrator is very important to O. Henry's tale.  For, it is with the omniscient knowledge of Soapy's motivation for getting put into prison and his other motivations that so quickly contribute to the humor.  For instance, Soapy rejecta charity because he knows that he will have to repay for it and be lectured.