Life

The Real Meaning Behind the “O. Henry Twist”: Hope in Hard Times

  I am an avid reader of O. Henry. Reading O. Henry’s stories often saves me when I’m feeling down or lacking in literary ideas. Some friends who also love literature once argued with me for him. They think that O. Henry’s narrative techniques are outdated and the plots are piled up. The famous “O. Henry-style ending”, that is, the ending that is always “unexpected and reasonable”, is what friends like me hate and despise the most. It’s cliche.
  I can understand these friends’ evaluation of O. Henry, but
  I still want to say a little more about the nature of the “O. Henry ending”. It may not be related to literature, but it is definitely related to life.
  Indeed, the “O. Henry ending” is the result of O. Henry’s use of humor, puns and jokes, but to understand its essence, we must first understand the cruel world that O. Henry once faced.
  O. Henry, whose real name was William Porter, was born into a family of doctors in the United States in the 1860s. His father was an alcoholic doctor. There was never peace in the family and the financial conditions were also very poor. O. Henry dropped out of high school and returned to his family’s business – serving as an apprentice in his uncle’s drugstore. There, he learned the knowledge of dispensing medicine, but he always wanted to be a painter.
  Later, O. Henry went to the west and worked as a shepherd for a period of time. During this period, he learned about various local customs, and more importantly, O. Henry met the love of his life – Athol Estes.
  They are in love and have a private life. Without Athol’s encouragement, O. Henry, who had worked in more than ten jobs throughout his life, would never have become a writer, nor would he have published his work in the “Detroit Free Press” in the year of his marriage.
  Unfortunately, O. Henry’s life is just like a sentence in his novel “The Gift of the Magi”: “Life is composed of sobs, sobs and smiles, and sobs account for most of them.” What is sobs? I just cried so much that I was out of breath. When O. Henry first set foot on the track of being a writer, two things happened: first, O. Henry was accused of embezzling public funds while he was a bank teller; second, during the process of O. Henry being summoned, escaping, and being imprisoned, Athol contracted tuberculosis and died a year later, in 1897.
  In 1898, O. Henry was sentenced to 5 years in prison. While serving his sentence, he became a prison pharmacist because of his professional knowledge, but his income was not enough to support himself and his daughter. Therefore, O. Henry picked up the pen that his wife had encouraged him to write during her lifetime and started writing short stories.
  Having told the story of half of O. Henry’s life, what does this have to do with the “O. Henry ending”?
  In his novel “The Last Leaf”, O. Henry wrote: “Draw a leaf for life. As long as you believe in it, a miracle will always happen. Although the hope is slim, it will last forever.” O. Henry said: ” “O. Henry-style ending” writes such a story ending for life: poor people can have hope, good people will be rewarded, and destiny is full of adventures…
  At first glance, “O. Henry-style ending” is extremely humorous. , but when O. Henry wrote, he did not have the talent for humor. He was experiencing the cruelty and pain of the world. Therefore, the “O. Henry ending” is a choice, a choice for literature and a choice for life.
  Finally, I don’t have an “O. Henry ending”, but I want to copy a sentence from O. Henry: “What we become in the end does not depend on which path we choose, but depends on our hearts. “No matter what, keep our hearts.

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