What is the theme of "The Furnished Room" by O. Henry?

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The theme of "The Furnished Room" is that New York is a cold, heartless city that devours people and destroys their dreams. Many people are drawn here because it is possible to achieve spectacular success, as Carrie Meeber does, for example, in Theodore Dreiser's great novel Sister Carrie. But the majority of people with artistic talents of one kind or another find that the competition is overwhelming. They get worn out with living in the horrible conditions described by O. Henry when the young man follows the housekeeper up the stairs and into the furnished room. Such rooms seem designed to create despair. They get discouraged by all the running around they have to do trying to find a little paying work, whether it be in acting, singing, dancing, writing, drawing, or whatever else. Johnsy and her friend Sue are both good examples of aspiring artists in O. Henry's story "The Last Leaf ." Sue is struggling desperately to make living expenses by doing sketches "on spec" for some magazine....

(The entire section contains 528 words.)

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