The Last Leaf - O'Henry - Analysis

The Last Leaf - O'Henry - Analysis

Introduction
O. Henry has been recognized among the greatest American authors by his great devotion to American literature. With the huge and unique collection of short stories, he is deserved to be called “one of the greatest masters of modern literature", said Stephen Leacock. Nearly 200 short stories published have gained the notice of the public as well as created the lasting popularity of O Henry’s literary style. However, if having to rank all of his works, the writers of this essay would choose “The Gift of the Magi”, an unforgettable masterpiece about Christmas, as the best story. One century has passed by but the story still sticks in reader’s mind as a crystal symbol of self-sacrifice in love. Without complicated plot or characters, it is like a fairy tale in modern time, which has revealed the fundamental value in ordinary family life. Catching the attention of the literary scholars with much critical analysis, however, it is still regarded as one the best Christmas stories in all the times. To help the readers get the implied ideas, the essay is written to give a deep analysis of the story in different aspects (both literary content and form).
Setting
William Sydney Porter, whose pen name was O.Henry, was born in Greensboro, North Carolina. Before throwing himself in literature, he had a troubled life. His mother died when he was 3, and his father had a serious problem with alcoholism. At the age of fifteen he left school and then had a number of jobs. In 1887, he married Athol Estes Roach but the happiness did not last long when his wife died ten years later. His life was even worst when he was found guilty of embezzling money in 1897 and sentenced to five years in prison. After being released, he moved to New York and became a great short-story writer. In 1906, he published the second collection, “The four million”, including “the Gift of the Magi”. It is said that these unforgettable experiences had inspired him to create such a unique and...

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