The Writing Style of the Last Leaf

Topics: Short story, Plot, Fiction Pages: 10 (3433 words) Published: May 16, 2013

II.Language Features.2
A. The Accurate Choice of words3
B. The Rhetoric Devices3
C.The Variety of Sentences4
III.Structure Features5
A. O’ Henry’s ending5
B.Plot Blank7

On O ’Henry’s Writing Style as Exemplified in The Last Leaf

I. Introduction

O’Henry is the father of modern American short stories, who ranks with Chekhov and Maupassant, was born on September 11, 1862 in Greensboro, North Carolina. As the initiator of contemporary short novelists, O’Henry plays an extremely important role in the literary world, especially in America. He is good at portraying minor characters. The sense of humor is the biggest characteristic of his short stories. He tends to make the end beyond all expectations, and he focus on the minor characters’ living condition.

The Last Leaf is one of his most famous short stories, and it best reflects his unique writing style. It is a story about living. It tells an impressive story among three poor and unsuccessful artists. It is a story about living. Old Behrman uses his life to save Johnsy’s life by drawing the last leaf of the ivy in a rain stormy night.

During the first ten years after O’Henry’s death, there rose a surge about O’Henry study in America, and his prestige reached the peak. He is called “the new father of America literature”. Now O’Henry still attracts scholars home and aboard.

Liu Wencui’s “A Study of O’Henry’s Writing Methods in his Short Story ‘The Gift of Magi’” explores O’Henry’s peculiar writing methods used in “The Gift of Magi” by addressing the distinctive title which combines metaphorical meaning, the living language with proper wording and the reasonable and surprising ending. (Liu Wencui, 2001) Then Wen Jiexia contrasts and compares O’Henry with Maupassant in “A Comparative Study between Maupassant and O’Henry in Short Story Layout”. Both O’Henry and Maupassant are skillful at short story writing and famous for their ingenious and exquisite layouts. Each of them has characteristic and style in plot, ending and narration. By doing so, Wen Jiexia shows the ingenious writing skills of O’Henry which comes from everyday life experiences. O’Henry writes ordinary scenes of life, but he can extract vivid and unique plots from common scenes. O’Henry tells his stories in an ordinary objective tone, with insertions of subjective comments, while Maupassant is objective, real and natural. O’Henry criticizes the social reality by displaying the macroscopic appearance with microscopic reflection. (Wen jiexia, 2002)

Moreover, in “Narrative Analysis of O’Henry’s Writing Technique” Zhang Wenhua explains the theme on human virtues in O’Henry’s works with the binary opposition in the structural theory. The writer comments on the modes of the opening and ending with the theory of narrative modes. The typical surprising ending in O’Henry’s works is analyzed with the technique of defamiliarization. By doing so, Zhang Wenhua presents the unique characteristics of O’Henry’s works with regard to the narrative analysis. (Zhang Wenhua, 2007) O’Henry’s unique writing styles—vivid plots, frequent coincidences, humorous language, unexpected ending and which moveding theme impress readers deeply. In this thesis, the author try to account for O’Henry’s writing style reflected in The Last Leaf. By discussing the language, structure and characterization portrayal, this thesis shows the concise and lifesome language, the ingenious arrangement and lively characters of this short story of O’Henry.

II.Language Features.

O’Henry’s language has distinctive features: humor, simplicity, unique design, proper choice of words. In The Last Leaf, O’Henry chooses exact, laconic, vivid words and various sentences to describe the background and scene of this short story, to make a psychological portrayal of...
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