Born William Sidney Porter, this master of short stories is much better known under his pen name “O. Henry. ” He was born September 11, 1862 in North Carolina, where he spent his childhood. O. Henry’s stories are famous for their surprise endings, to the point that such an ending is often referred to as an “O. Henry ending. ” He was called the American answer to Guy de Maupassant. Both authors wrote twist endings, but O. Henry stories were much more playful and optimistic. His stories are also well known for witty narration.
Most of O. Henry’s stories are set in his own time, the early years of the 20th century. Many take place in New York City and deal for the most part with ordinary people: clerks, policemen, waitresses. Among his most famous stories are: Gift of the Magi, The Cop and the Anthem, The Ransom of Red Chief. Gift of the Magi O. Henry?s short story Gift of the Magi presents a beautiful Christmas love story. It?s about a young couple who sacrifices the most valuable things they got in their home.
Della the “mistress of the house” decides to buy Jim a chain for his prized pocket watch given to him by his father’s father. To raise the funds, she has her long, beautiful hair “cascade of brown waters” cut off and sold to make a wig. Meanwhile, Jim decides to sell his watch to buy Della a beautiful set of combs made out of tortoiseshell and jewels for her lovely, knee-length brown hair. Although each is disappointed to find the gift they chose rendered useless, each is pleased with the gift that they received, because it represents their love for one another.
As it said, of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi. ” One dollar and eighty-seven cents nominative sentence. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies anadiplosis saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and polysyndeton the butcher enumeration until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it.
One dollar and eighty-seven cents repetition…Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles enumeration, with sniffles predominating. detachment … A furnished flat at $8 per week. nominative sentence It did not exactly beggar description personification, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad…Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name personification “Mr. James Dillingham Young. ” The “Dillingham” had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week.
Now, when the income was shrunk to $20 parenthesis, the letters of “Dillingham” looked blurred, as though they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D… She stood by the window and looked out dully at a grey cat walking a grey fence in a grey ordinary repetition backyard…She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result detachment… Many a happy hour unassociated epithet she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and polysyndeton sterlingenumaration—somethinganaphora just a little bit near to being worthy of the honour of being owned by Jim.
A very thin and very ordinary repetition agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips parenthesis, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender parenthesis, had mastered the art. Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride eptihet…Had the Queen of Sheba allusion lived in the flat across the airshaft… Had King Solomon allusion been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement parenthesis, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.
So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her, rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters simile. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her metaphor… On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat parallelism. With a whirl of skirts and with anaphora the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street…One flight up Della ran inversion, and collected herself, panting detachment. Madame, large, too white, chilly enumaration, hardly looked the “Sofronie. Down rippled the inversion brown cascade metaphor. “Twenty dollars,” said Madame, lifting the mass metonymy with a practised hand… Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings metaphor… Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it inversion, and she hurried home with the 87 cents…Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends–a mammoth task epiphora. Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy simile.
She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically enumeration. “If Jim doesn’t kill me,” she said to herself, “before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl simile. But what could I do–oh! what could I do repetition with a dollar and eighty- seven cents? ” …The door opened and Jim stepped in and polysyndeton closed it…Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail simile. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her.
It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror enumeration, nor polysyndeton any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for… You don’t know what a nice—what ordinary repetition a beautiful, nice gift I’ve got for you… …Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered metaphor,” she went on with sudden serious sweetness oxymoron, “but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim? ” defeated expectancy Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake inversion. He enfolded his Della.
For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year–what is the difference? rhetoric question …”Don’t make any mistake, Dell,” he said, “about me. I don’t think there’s anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or polysyndeton a shampoo enumeration that could make me like my girl any less…White fingers metonymy and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails synonyms, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat. …And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat simile and cried, “Oh, oh! ” …You’ll have to look at the time a hundred times a day hyperbole now… The magi, as you know, were wise men–wonderfully wise men epiphora–who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger… Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest epiphora. They are the magi.
The Syntactic Means The author uses many enumerations in the text in order to create the effect of quantity and make the text more informative e. g (She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically). When we speak about the expansions proper the author uses also many parenthesis to add qualifying, explanatory or additional information for example (Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, the letters of “Dillingham” looked blurred, as though they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D).
Using detachments in the text serve to emphasize the loose part of the sentence. (Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating) In the text also occur many repetitions, ordinary (She stood by the window and looked out dully at a grey cat walking a grey fence in a grey backyard), anaphora (Something fine and rare and sterling—something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honour of being owned by Jim. anadiplosis (And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two…) epiphora (Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends–a mammoth task) polysyndeton stresses the simultaneousness of actions, or the close connection of the qualities or phenomena enumerated (It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for…), in order to create certain rhythm in the text, to fix the attention of the reader on the key-word of the utterance.
To increase the dynamism of the text the author uses nominative sentences (A furnished flat at $8 per week) The semasiological EM and SD To create strong images, the author uses many beautiful metaphors (Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered ), metonyms (White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper), personifications (Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name “Mr. James Dillingham Young. The richness of imagery is further developed in effective similes (So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her, rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters). Author decorates the text using epithets (Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. ) Usage of oxymoron help to reveal the inner contradictions that underline objective phenomena (… she went on with sudden serious sweetness…) O. Henry employs hyperbole to overestimate and exaggerate the language (You’ll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now).
Lexico-phraseological EM and SD In the short story also occur allusions, so the writer also relies on the reader?s knowledge of these facts (Had the Queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft… ) To sum it up, the short story Gift of the Magi is rich in stylistic devices. O. Henry mostly uses in his story polysyndeton, enumerations, metaphors, similes to increase the immediacy and freshness of the reading impression.