Symbolism in O Henry's "A Romance of a Busy Broker" and "A Service of Love"

Essay by anttom162004High School, 10th grade April 2005

download word file, 6 pages 0.0

Downloaded 11416 times

O Henry

William Sydney Porter, also known as O Henry was an excellent writer and very talented in writing surprise endings to all of his stories ("O Henry"). He wrote about average people living in New York City, this influenced the settings of most his stories by giving the reader a visual of the senses he wrote about. In the stories "A Romance of a Busy Broker" and "A Service of Love" which were written by O Henry, both are influenced by O Henry's life and talents. Also used in his stories were many literary elements such as, characterization, situational irony, symbolism, and foreshadowing.

In the story "A Romance of a Busy Broker", Harvey Maxwell an old, very busy Manhattan broker becomes overwhelmed with work and becomes very forgetful. His assistant Mr. Pitcher misunderstands him and call for a replacement stenographer to replace Miss. Leslie. Until Mr.

Maxwell finds out and gets upset, telling Mr. Pitcher that Miss. Leslie will hold the job of stenographer until she can not anymore. When lunch hour for the office comes around Mr. Maxwell relies that he is in love with Miss. Leslie. He asks her to marry him, only to find out that they got married the pervious night at a small church around the corner from the office (O Henry_).

Through out the story "A Romance of a Busy Broker," O Henry uses characterization to explain and exaggerate the characters in the story. Starting with Mr. Harvey Maxwell, O Henry explains him as an old man, who works as a broker in Manhattan. This job at times for him can get very busy and this leads to him becoming forgetful. He forgets during the story that he actually is in love with Miss. Leslie and has already taken her hand in marriage. O Henry explains Miss. Leslie as a pleasant, beautiful woman. She is a plain woman who always dresses in gray or dark colored dresses (O Henry_). O Henry explains that "it fitted her figure with fidelity and discretion," explaining about the dress she wore, she also never wore jewelry such as, chains, bracelets, or lockets (O Henry_). Another character also explained and exaggerated, but not as much as Mr. Maxwell and Miss. Leslie is Mr. Pitcher. Mr. Pitcher is a confidential clerk of Mr. Harvey Maxwell; he is the one who tries to hire a new stenographer to replace Miss. Leslie. As seen, O Henry uses the literary element characterization to characterize his characters by explaining and exaggerating them all through out his stories.

Another element used in the story "A Romance of a Busy Broker" is situational irony. This part of the story is where O Henry uses his surprise ending to shock the reader. He did this by making the reader believe that Miss. Leslie was going to get replaced. Than surprising the reader, when Miss. Leslie tells Mr. Maxwell that they are already in love and married. Through out the story it was believed that Miss. Leslie was quite and did not associate with Mr. Maxwell. Then when Mr. Maxwell thinks to himself "By George, I'll do it now," said Maxwell half aloud "I'll ask her now. I wonder I didn't do it long ago" (O Henry_), the reader suspects that something is going to happen. Than as Mr. Maxwell explains to Miss. Leslie that he loves her and wants her to marry him, she tells him and the reader that they were married the night before by explaining, "Don't you remember, Harvey? We were married last night at eight o'clock in the little church around the corner (O Henry_)." As shown O Henry was very talented in writing stories and using the element of surprise to end his stories, this is what O Henry is known for.

O Henry also used the literary element of foreshadowing to convey to the reader what was to come. O Henry used this many times through out the story. He used this when he explained "Pitcher, still mildly curious, noticed a difference in her ways this morning... (O Henry_)." This shows that even thought Miss. Leslie was quite Mr. Pitcher could still see that something was different in the way she acted. Another example of foreshadowing is when tears started to fill up in Miss. Leslie's eyes after being told by Mr. Maxwell that he loves her and wants her hand in marriage. This element is how O Henry gives clues to the reader to tell them what is to come. The examples above foreshadow O Henry's surprise ending to this story. By using this he added to the suspense of the story because the reader wants to know what will happen.

The short story "A service of Love" by O Henry is about a married couple, who had a deep love for art. During the story one of the main characters, Joe Larrabee pretends to have a job as an artist, painting and drawing senses for customers, and his wife and also another main character, Delia Larrabee pretends to teach a wealthy generals daughter how to play the piano, when she gives her music lessons. The couple lies to each other and both get a job at a laundry mat working in different sections. Then, when Joe finds out Delia supposedly hurt herself while teaching Clementina, Joe knows Delia was lying. Than when the truth is told to each, everything is alright and they forgive each other.

Through out the story O Henry uses characterization to explain the loves, and talents of each character. He explains Joe Larrabee as an excellent painter and/or artist, also shown is his pride, how proud he was of what he did and how he wanted his wife to be able to follow her dream, ever though he could not follow his own. He lied to his wife Delia about selling his paintings to a man from Peoria, so she would not feel bad about following her dream. O Henry explains Delia Larrabee as being a pianist and also having a deep love for music, she also lied to Joe about teaching General Pinkney's daughter how to play piano. Both Joe and Delia want to protect each other and would do any job that would put food on the table, even if that job had nothing to do with art.

Another literary element used in "A Service of Love" by O Henry is situational irony. Yet again O Henry uses his element of surprise by shocking the reader with the conclusion of the story. The main example of situational irony is this story is at the end, when the reader finds out that both Joe and Delia lied about their jobs to each other and most of all to the reader. Once we the reader finds out about the lies it adds suspense to the story by the reader wanting to know what will happen next in the story. Even though both Joe and Delia lied to each other neither of them were mad, this is shown when Joe says to Delia "When one loves one's art no service seems to hard" and Delia replies by saying "no" "just when one loves (O Henry_)." This shows the reader that no matter what Joe and Delia still loves each other, and they lied to protect each other dreams.

O Henry used symbolism in the story "A Service of Love" to attract meaning to the story. In the story, art was symbolic of Joe and Delia's love for each other and how their love was never ending, no matter what. O Henry explained this when saying "When one loves one's art no service seems to hard (O Henry_)." Another example of symbolism is Joe and Delia's lies towards each other. Joe's lie about selling his paintings to a man from Peoria and Delia's lie about teaching General Pinkney's daughter how to play piano, were done to protect each others dreams also, Delia's bandage was used to be symbolic of her lie. As seen, by O Henry adding this symbolism to the story, it gave it meaning and showed the reader the importantance of Joe and Delia's love.

In conclusion, O Henry is seen as one of the best writers in time. By using the element of surprise at the end of his stories, it added excitement and wonder to the story. In both short stories "A Service of Love" and "The Romance of a Busy Broker" he used this method an in most of his other stories. As seen, he also used characterization, situational irony, foreshadowing, and symbolism to ass to theme, setting and many others.


paper has not been turned in to class yet. so i have no grade on it yet.