O. Henry's Writing Style

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When people try to describe O. Henry’s writing style, they always use the term “smile with tears,” which implies his twisted way of thoughts and endings about every story. These stories usually end in a humorous but also cruel kind of way. It’s absolutely useful to elevate the artistic thought in writing a thoughtful story.

To better understand the brilliant plots of his twisted endings let us begin with one of his most famous stories, The Cop and the Anthem1. In this story, the main character was trying to find shelter for the coming winter by getting himself thrown into prison. After all his attempts ended in futility, he found himself moved by the anthem of the church. Hearing this he decided to make a new man of himself by conquering the evil that had taken possession of him. But not until the anthem was finished, this time he was ‘hopefully’ arrested for doing nothing. When Soapy had realized how foolish he was and had decided to live a new life, his previous activities deprived him of the right. The ending makes us think about society and its treatment of Soapy. What made the story so successful was the ending. The sudden turn of events not only gives readers a sudden fall, but also forces us to think about our own lives.

In order to learn more about O. Henry’s articles, we should pay some particular attention to what happened in his life and why he wrote stories such as The Cop and the Anthem. O. Henry, whose given name is William Sydney Porter, was born in Greensboro, North Carolina. When William was three, his mother died, and he was raised by his paternal grandmother and aunt. William was an avid reader, but at the age of fifteen he left school, and then worked in a drug store. He moved to Houston, where he had a number of jobs, including one as a bank clerk. In 1884 he started a humorous weekly publication called The Rolling Stone. When the paper failed, he joined the Houston Post as a reporter and columnist. In 1897 he was convicted of embezzling money, although there has been much debate over his actual guilt. In 1898 he entered a penitentiary at Columbus, Ohio.

While in prison O. Henry started to write short stories to earn money to support his daughter Margaret. His first work, Whistling Dick's Christmas Stocking (1899), appeared in McClure's Magazine.
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