Discussion Topic

The significance and meaning of the scene and imagery in this passage from O. Henry's "The Compliments of the Season."

Summary:

The scene and imagery in O. Henry's "The Compliments of the Season" highlight themes of generosity and human connection. Through vivid descriptions, O. Henry portrays the warmth and kindness exchanged between characters during the holiday season, emphasizing the spirit of giving and the importance of compassion in fostering community bonds.

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What is the meaning of the bolded text in this passage from O. Henry's "The Compliments of the Season"?

The lady entered a moment later. She was more beautiful and holy than any picture that Fuzzy had seen. She smiled, and said something about a doll. Fuzzy didn't understand that; he remembered nothing about a doll. A footman brought in two small glasses of sparkling wine on a stamped sterling-silver waiter. The Lady took one. The other was handed toFuzzy.As his fingers closed on the slender glass stem his disabilities dropped from him for one brief moment. He straightened himself; and Time, so disobliging to most of us, turned backward to accommodate Fuzzy. Forgotten Christmas ghosts whiter than the false beards of the most opulent Kris Kringle were rising in the fumes of Grogan's whisky. What had the Millionaire's mansion to do with a long, wainscoted Virginia hall, where the riders were grouped around a silver punch-bowl, drinking the ancient toast of the House? And why should the patter of the cab horses' hoofs on the frozen street be in any wise related to the sound of the saddled hunters stamping under the shelter of the west veranda? And what had Fuzzy to do with any of it? The Lady, looking at him over her glass, let her condescending smile fade away like a false dawn. Her eyes turned serious. She saw something beneath the rags and Scotch terrier whiskers that she did not understand. But it did not matter.

I think that the bold words that you call to our attention are very similar in meaning to the rest of this passage.  They are all meant to reinforce the idea that Fuzzy's actions are recalling the way that things were done in the past.  They are making the lady recall lost traditions that were observed by her ancestors.

In the time of the story, there was no reason for the lady to have anything to do with Fuzzy.  But he invokes this ancient ritual of giving the lady the compliments of the season and that activates this memory in the old woman.

She is wondering why she feels compelled to join him in this toast.  She is somehow feeling transported back to the days when her ancestors lived in these rural mansions instead of in the city.  Fuzzy's actions are recalling these ancestral memories of hers.  (They make the cab horses' hooves remind her in some way of the hooves of the hunters' horses outside those mansions.)  She does not know really why, but there is something deep inside her that is responding to these actions.

This whole story is about Fuzzy's actions and how they recall the way things were in the past.  This passage is one of the places where we see this theme most clearly.

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What is the significance of the scene described in this passage from O. Henry's "Compliments of the Season"?

As his fingers closed on the slender glass stem his disabilities dropped
from him for one brief moment. He straightened himself; and Time, so
disobliging to most of us, turned backward to accommodate Fuzzy.
Forgotten Christmas ghosts whiter than the false beards of the most
opulent Kris Kringle were rising in the fumes of Grogan's whisky. What
had the Millionaire's mansion to do with a long, wainscoted Virginia
hall, where the riders were grouped around a silver punch-bowl, drinking
the ancient toast of the House? And why should the patter of the cab
horses' hoofs on the frozen street be in any wise related to the sound
of the saddled hunters stamping under the shelter of the west veranda?
And what had Fuzzy to do with any of it?

What all of this is saying is that Fuzzy has temporarily returned to a time long in the past.  The author says a ghost has visited him.

He wants to give the lady the compliments of the season -- an old-fashioned tradition no longer observed.  The narrator is pointing out how incongruous this is in the current setting.  He mentions three things that distinguish the current setting from the setting in which this tradition was typically carried out.  He is saying that this home in the modern city is nothing like an old country home where people used to observe this tradition.

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