(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Anthony Rockwall, a retired soap manufacturer and self-made millionaire, believes that money can accomplish anything; he declares, “I’ll bet my money on money every time.” He thinks the power of his money can carry his son Richard into the exclusive New York social world. Because he is rough, crude, and down-to-earth, Anthony Rockwall has never been welcome in this elite world of wealth and privilege. By contrast, young Richard, a gentleman in appearance and manners, has recently graduated from college and returned home to find his place in New York’s elite society. He has, however, unhappily discovered that money cannot accomplish everything that his father believes it can. In the upper-class circle of his friends, he has met and fallen in love with the beautiful Miss Lantry, whose high social position and wealth make her unattainable to him. Not only can he find no opportunity to propose to her; he can barely find time in her busy social schedule to talk to her. He will see this beautiful woman for only a few minutes the following day; then she leaves New York for a two-year trip to Europe.

While father and son discuss the power and limitations of Rockwall money to make dreams come true, the father forms a plan using the power of wealth. He advises his son that if he wants to succeed, he should make a token offering at the altar of Mammon, the money god. Later Aunt Ellen, having heard about this conversation from her nephew, reproaches her...

(The entire section is 499 words.)


(Short Stories for Students)

O. Henry’s ‘‘Mammon and the Archer’’ begins with an example of Anthony Rockwall’s unwillingness to accept the limitations of his...

(The entire section is 797 words.)