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ID number:944819
Published: 13.01.2003.
Language: English
Level: Secondary school
Literature: n/a
References: Not used

Short story writer William Sidney Porter, better known as O. Henry is one of the most famous American short story writers, well known on the both shores of the Atlantic Ocean. In the best of his works O. Henry achieved dazzling virtuosity, and his works have remained some of the best ever created in the genre.
His manner of writing is unique and easily recognizable among others. He uses great variety of different stylistic devices to keep reader amazed and hungry for more, which is exactly how I felt reading his stories. I didn’t really like the first story of the story selection, which was “An Unfinished Story”, but I couldn’t help noticing how easy it was to read it. O. Henry uses wordplay beautifully and amazes the reader with the ease of word usage in puns. It seems unbelievable, as he hasn’t had profound education.
One of his most recognizable stylistic devices is unexpected endings, and he has mastered them to perfection. This, along the language of the stories, is, to my mind, what makes the stories so unique and enjoyable. One of my favorite stories of the selection is “The Princess and the Puma”, which has a typical unexpected ending. I also liked the fact that a lot of the stories don’t have exact ending, letting the readers to think along. These stories really make readers THINK about a lot of important issues of life.
Another very amusing stylistic device O. Henry uses is narrating another story in a story; examples of this manner are stories “Friends from Saintrosario” and “The Pancakes of Pimento”.
He is a born storyteller. The characters of his stories are amazingly full of life and very human – they all have their vices and virtues. What I found extremely enjoyable was the fact that the stories differed from each other a lot – the characters were people of different runs of life, from poor shopgirls, to cowboys, to criminals, to brokers, to well-off people. The situations described are also of great range and cover many important issues of life such as betrayal, desperation, true friendship, love, pride, dignity, self-devotion, etc. The stories take place in locations all over America – New York City, ranchos of Texas and small towns in between. His ability to write about that as if he knew all of it from inside comes from the fact that he actually had experienced a lot working for newspapers, a bank, shops, being arrested and a runaway. All the people he met in the different periods of his life, became inspirations and prototypes for many of his stories.
O. Henry was a professional storywriter, which influenced his creative work, as writing for newspapers demanded writing stories that everyone would find amusing. This influenced his way of writing and along his masterpieces, O. Henry wrote a lot of stories with not very big artistic value – typical happy end stories such as “The Indian Summer of Johnson” and “The Missing Component”. Despite the need to compromise, O. Henry never gave in to his principles to write only what he believed in. Although O. Henry never criticized the system of society directly, he expressed his attitude in his stories using byplay and irony.

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