Mammon and the Archer Analysis

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.)

Historical Context

(Short Stories for Students)

‘‘Mammon and the Archer,’’ like other stories in O. Henry’s The Four Million, touches on aspects of life in New York City at...

(The entire section is 580 words.)

Literary Style

(Short Stories for Students)

The setting is extremely important in the story, as it is in all of the stories in The Four Million. O. Henry...

(The entire section is 599 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Short Stories for Students)

1900s: By the end of the decade, America boasts more than forty thousand millionaires, many of whom earned their fortunes in...

(The entire section is 208 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Short Stories for Students)

Pick another writer from the twentieth century who writes or has written stories about New York. Read one of this author’s stories, and...

(The entire section is 322 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Short Stories for Students)

The Four Million, a collection that includes the story ‘‘Mammon and the Archer,’’ was adapted as an audiobook by Books on Tape...

(The entire section is 38 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Short Stories for Students)

Although O. Henry’s literary reputation is still in question today, his name has been attached to one of the most prestigious short-story...

(The entire section is 469 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Short Stories for Students)

Bales, Kent, ‘‘O. Henry,’’ in American Writers, Supplement 2, Vol. 1, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1974,...

(The entire section is 503 words.)


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Current-Garcia, Eugene. O. Henry. New York: Twayne, 1965.

Èjxenbaum, B. M. O. Henry and the Theory of the Short Story. Translated by I. R. Titunik. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1968.

Langford, Gerald. Alias, O. Henry: A Biography of William Sidney Porter. New York: Macmillan, 1957.

O’Connor, Richard. O. Henry: The Legendary Life of William S. Porter. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1970.

Pattee, Fred Lewis. The Development of the American Short Story: An Historical Survey. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1923.


(The entire section is 92 words.)