Mammon and the Archer Style and Technique

O. Henry

Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The success of this short story rests on its fast-moving, dramatic plot and the strong characterization of Anthony Rockwall and Aunt Ellen, who represent the respective powers of money and love to bring human happiness. Early in the story, old Rockwall appears to be a rough, harsh businessman totally obsessed with money. Using money as a measurement, he calculates his son to be a gentleman by the price of his clothes and even his soap. He bluntly challenges his son to buy the time he needs with Miss Lantry: “Do you mean to tell me that with all the money I’ve got you can’t get an hour or two of a girl’s time for yourself?” He later roughly ends a conversation with his sister to continue reading an adventure story about a pirate on a sinking ship, commenting, “He’s too good a judge of the value of money to let drown.” This image of the father may be a facade hiding a generous and perceptive man. When he creates a way to help Richard, he shows sensitivity to his sister’s and son’s feelings by concealing his efforts. As a result of his careful planning, the young couple believe that destiny has brought them together. Thus, Anthony Rockwall is not entirely the heartless tycoon he seems to be.

Aunt Ellen appears to be a sentimental old woman, but she also gives her nephew the means to become engaged. She is described as “a gray-haired angel that had been left on earth by mistake,” and as oppressed by her brother’s wealth. She wisely...

(The entire section is 492 words.)