What do the themes, money can’t solve your problems, don't forget where you came from, and don't try to change who you are, mean in the story "Hearts and Hands" by O. Henry?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the short story "Hearts and Hands" by O. Henry, money can't solve Mr. Easton's problems. He is a convict being escorted to prison, and, though he seems to have associated with a moneyed crowd in the east, he no longer has access to money or position. The reader senses that Mr. Easton may have committed a crime in pursuit of money, as he says that life in the east was expensive, but it's clear that no amount of money in the world could help him avoid prison now.

Miss Fairchild and Mr. Easton seem to have tried to keep up with a moneyed crowd and to escape their backgrounds. Mr. Easton appears to have been invested in changing his identity. Again, he may have committed a crime to gain wealth and keep up with his old crowd, but trying to change his identity has only landed him in prison. Miss Fairchild also seems to have tried to keep up with a wealthy and upper-class crowd, as she refers to an ambassador who no longer calls on her. Both characters attempted to lose their old identities and change themselves to belong to a wealthy crowd in the east, but they have been unsuccessful in doing so. Miss Fairchild now lives in a simple way that the eastern crowd would disapprove of, and Mr. Easton is heading to life behind bars. 

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