Comparing 'Gift Of The Magi And The Last Leaf'

Superior Essays
The Simplest Complexity
William Sydney Porter, otherwise known by his pen name, O. Henry, is a very influential American short story writer in the world of literature. “The true adventurer goes forth aimless and uncalculating to meet and greet unknown faith”, and such is the way he led his life (O. Henry). He undeniably sacrificed an unadventurous, mundane existence for one that yielded a wide range of occupations, acquaintances, and experiences that greatly influenced his writing. O. Henry was capable of taking the world around him and transforming it into a work of art. One of his most popular short stories, “Gift of the Magi”, along with “The Last Leaf”, reflects his use of surprise endings, witty plots, and association to his everyday
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“The Last Leaf” is about two women who are artist, living together in an apartment in New York. One of the ladies fall ill to pneumonia, and she is quickly losing her will to live. She lies in bed and counts the remaining number of leaves left on a vine outside her window and as she counts, she says “when the last leaf goes, so shall I.” The healthy woman begins to panic and as a last resort, she visits an older artist, who happens to be an alcoholic, and she asks him to please give her friend a motive to live. Days go by and the last leaf on the vine has yet to fall. The doctor finds the old man also struck with pneumonia, but he notices the man’s paint and pallet is on a ladder leaning against the wall where the final leaf resides. The old artist made the ultimate sacrifice. He painted the leaf on the wall in order to save the girl’s life. This leaf also happened to be his final masterpiece. The man sacrificed himself in order to give the girl one more chance at life (The Last Leaf). In “The Gift of the Magi”, “The Last Leaf”, and many others, each line is written the same way O. Henry would speak, giving off the illusion as if O. Henry himself, is speaking directly to his …show more content…
Henry was. Views are varied due to the diversity of the audiences he attracts. Many critics seem to believe that O. Henry’s writing style is very simple, childlike, superficial and downplays the harsh realities of today’s society, even though his characters and places come from real life people and experiences that he has once been a part of. Other critics disagree with this opinion, and they are aware that O. Henry is a brilliant writer that had a great impact on creative writing. They realize that his use of irony and twisted humor makes the story more pleasurable and enjoyable to read (Contemporary Authors Online 3). “Critical analysis of Porter’s stories has often focused on his strong sense of place and the way in which he portrays the realistic details and evokes the atmosphere of his chosen setting.” O. Henry’s perspective of New York and the multiple places that he has gone, appeals to many critics because of the way he approaches the topic with such curiosity (Overview 2). The multiple opinions projected on O. Henry’s work, did not affect the way O. Henry wrote in the least bit. He had one rule to writing and that rule was “Rule 1 of story – writing is to write stories that please yourself. There is no rule 2” (Rollins 223). Although O. Henry’s writing included many surprises throughout the plot, he was one of the most realistic writers of his

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