William Sidney Porter (1862-1910)
O. Henry—one of the
greatest short-noveltellers in the world
Teaching Contents
Life Introduction
O Henry’s Works
O Henry’s Features
Brief Introduction to The Cop and the
Life Introduction (1)
 O Henry was born in North Carolina, in 1862.
His father was a doctor and editor, his mother
sometimes wrote poetry. He got little education
but was much entertained as a boy by his
maiden aunt who read stories to him much.
 When 18, he went to Texas, a land of ranches
and cowboys. He loved the country life. He
worked in a drug store and then in a bank.
Life Introduction (2)
 Porter led an active social life in Austin,
including membership in singing and drama
groups. Porter was a good singer and musician.
He played both the guitar and mandolin.
 Porter met and began courting Athol Estes,
then seventeen years old and from a wealthy
family. Her mother objected to the match
because Athol was ill, suffering from
tuberculosis. On July 1, 1887, Porter eloped
with Athol to the home of Reverend R. K.
Smoot, where they were married.
Life Introduction (3)
 He was quite productive and
produced many works (273 short
novels). He was very sociable and
friendly, especially with children
and poor people, and even with
tramps (流浪汉)and thieves.
 Many of his stories tell about the
lives of poor people in New York,
as well as in other places.
O Henry’s Works
 《A Service of Love》(《爱的牺
《The Last Leaf》(《最后一片叶
《The Romance of a Busy Broker》
《The Cop and the Anthem 》
 《The Gift of Magi》
 《After 20 Years》(《20年之后》)
O Henry’s Features
 His novels depicted the poor life of
people with a clear style and a keen
observation of details.
 His stories are usually short. The plots
are exceedingly clever and interesting;
humor abounds, and the end is always
 Many of his stories contain a great deal
of slang and colloquial expression. Such
forms of speech are used to give what is
called local color.
 O. Henry's short stories are well known
for their wit, wordplay, warm
characterization and clever twist endings.
Lead-in Questions
 Are there any relations between “The Cop” And
“The Anthem”?
The cop is to cultivate people with violence
while the anthem is to teach people with moral
 What are the backgrounds of the story?
Winter is approaching, on his bench in Madison
Square Soapy moved uneasily, his wish is to
spend this winter in jail, where he can be
 Did Soapy “realize his wish” at end? Is it ironic?
Key Points and Difficulties
 Plot (beginning, rising action, climax,
falling action)
 Language (humorous, satirical, ironic)
 Soapy’s psycological description
 The beginning: soapy, homeless, wished to be
supplied with food and shelter in jail for the
next three months.
 The rising action: Soapy tried all means to do
something offensive (6 times), each is enough
to put himself into prison. But he never
 The climax: after experiencing so many
frustrations, he was purified by the Sabbath
Anthem. He decided to begin a new life but
dramatically was arrested by the police.
 The falling action
Six times of Incidences and Coincidences
 The first time: to enter a luxurious restaurant
and expect to have a big dinner, but was
pushed to th sidewalk.
 The second time: took a cobblestone and
dashed it through the glass. Then he himself
admited the crime but the policeman refused
to believe him.
 The third time: had a big dinner in a small
restaurant without paying money, hoping to be
sent into prison. Instead, he got a big beat.
 What are Sopy’s intentions for each
plan? What is the result?
Six times of Incidences and Coincidences
 The fourth time: tried to be a scoundrel,
bothering the lady. But it seemed that
the lady is playing his joke.(prostitute)
 The fifth time: pretended to be a
drunkard, carried on “disorderly conduct’
 The sixth time: stole the umbrella,
which was picked up by the present
Evaluate the Incidences and
 They are unexpected but in reason. “a man
with several crimes” is never acknowledged as
“commiting crimes”. (dreams cannot be
 The last time, when he became refreshed by
the anthem and wished to restart his life. He
was caught by the policeman.
 This formed a sharp contrast, and it was also
the dramatic conflict of the novel.
The Social Significance
 Soapy is the representative of the
lower class in American society. This
novel is the true reflection of the
lower class at that time.
 This novel is to criticize the
capitalist’s hypocrisy, injustice and