O Henry

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After Mark Twain and Edgar Allen Poe, William Sydney Porter (known as O Henry) is the most read author in the world and bears the title of « master of the short story ». He has been called many things. Some people have called him the twentieth-century Balzak. Some have called him the American Maupassant because of his so well made surprising endings. The short story is the one fundamental and self-contained genre in American prose fiction, and the stories of O. Henry certainly made their appearance in consequence of the prolonged and incessant cultivation of the genre The real O. Henry is found in an irony pervading all his stories, in a keen feeling for form and traditions. Americans cannot help wanting to prove a resemblance in outlook between Him and Shakespeare--it is their way of expressing "national pride." So, who is that William Sydney Porter?

William Sydney Porter was born on September 11, 1862, in Greensboro, North Carolina. He grew up in the post-Civil War depression that gripped the southern states for years following the close of that epic and tragic internecine struggle. His Grandmother was given the task of raising him and a younger sibling after the death of his mother when three-years old child and his father's addiction to alcohol. By age nineteen, he had been an avid reader as she was also responsable for their education. He had read a wide variety of books and articles that would later have a direct impact on his literary work. He moved to Texas in 1984 where he got married and obtained a job as a teller at one of the local banks. When faced with charges of bank embezzelement he fled to New Orleans and then To Honduras. Little is known of his activities there, even though his experiences in Honduras would later be incorporated into some of his stories. He returned to the states when word came that his wife was losing her battle with tuberculosis. On his return, he was convicted to bank fraud and then sentenced to three years in an Ohio penetentiary, where he began writing short stories. Embarassed to be in jail, he hid this fact from everyone, even his own daughter, by adopting the alias O.Henry. For quite a few years O.Henry led a happy life. Then in his early forties, despite the success of his stories and his second marriage, he slipped into alcoholism and depression. In 1910, he died unhappy and poor with less than a dollar to his name. One of the most significant short stories he had written, and which I am going to deal with in my present essay is "The Cop and the Anthem". William Sidney Porter, a realist. Many of his stories tell about the lives of poor people in New York, as well as in other place. (His stories are about poor people; stories are short; style is clear; and he has a keen observation.) The Cop and the Anthem, indicates that he considered all the tramps are worth writing about and look for a solution to their problems of homeless and starvation. His stories are usually short, and the plots are exceedingly clear and interesting, humor abounds, and the end is always surprising. Often there are two endings: first an unexpected ending, then another, which is quite different one and a still better surprise. The story commences with a tramp, Soapy was his name, who tries in vain to be arrested and to live then in a wealthy condition there in gaol, where he can eat some good food have a bed in which he falls on the spot fast asleep. He tries so many times to achieve his goal to be imprisoned: He goes, as a first time, to a luxurious restaurant but as he was in a miserable dress with a torn shoes; he was kicked off quickly from the place. As a second time, he goes then to a for-any-one restaurant, he has been welcomed there and he ordered as many dishes as possible to eat. Once the waiter comes to give him the bill, the tramp shows him that he has no money on him and thus he has been just bitten and then thrown out. He tries to steal a man's umbrella, but when he does, the man...
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