The Best of Poe Reading Pointers for Sharper Insights eText

Edgar Allan Poe

Reading Pointers for Sharper Insights

As you read this collection of the best of O. Henry's short stories, keep the following points in mind:

Surprise Endings

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.