Green Door

9 September 2016

The text under analysis is a story written by O’Henry. His real name is William Sidney Porter and O. Henry is his pen name. O. Henry is an American short-story writer of the late 19th century. He is a representative of realism, who wrote about the life of ordinary people in New York City. Typical for O. Henry’s stories is a twist of plot which turns on an ironic or coincidental  circumstance.

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Although some critics were not so enthusiastic about his work, the public loved and loves it. The plots of his stories are clever and interesting, and the end is always surprising. His works include ‘The Four Million’, ‘The Gift of the Magi’, ‘The Furnished Room’, ‘Shoes’, ‘The Last Leaf’ and so on. No matter how many times you read them they always give you the same feeling of freshness. So does the story ‘The Green Door’. There are at least five reasons why you should read O. Henry’s short stories: 1. O. Henry is the master of twist endings.

He will surprise you with either a twist of fate, an unexpected ending, or a character trait (характерна риса) revealed in the end that changes everything. 2. O. Henry loved playing with words, using dialects, and coining new words. In fact, he’s the one who coined the term “banana republic,” which refers to a small country that is economically dependent on a single export[‘eksp?? t] commodity (товар для продажу), such as bananas. 3. If you want to build your vocabulary power, these stories will help you. O. Henry’s vocabulary compared to Shakespeare’s. His words are simple, but varied.

Many of his stories are set in New York City, where he lived during most of his writing career. Many stories are also set in the Mid-West. 5. Although he went through a lot, with losing his wife to tuberculosis and being wrongly imprisoned, his stories are not dark or depressing. They talk about universal values, such as self-sacrifice, true love, and loyalty. The Green Door is a good example of a typical O. Henry’s story: set in New York City, and with a twist ending. The title of the story prepares us for what we are going to learn.

There are some relations between the plot of the text and its title. In this story the title can be determined as thought-provoking and symbolic. It causes different thoughts about events which are going to take place in the plot. In our case the title can be associated with some events which are going to take plays with the characters behind the green door, in front of the green door or with the green door. At the same time it can be determined as symbolic. O. Henry uses the eponymous [? ‘p? n? m? s] green door as a symbol for everyday adventures which he encourages us to seek out.

This story is with a little hint of romance  and adventure. The problem it is devoted to is that very often real life interferes with our intentions, and here with the intentions of the main character Rudolph Steiner, who is an adventure-seeker. The message of the story can be interpreted as following, that sometimes we should rely on Fate and then everyone will find his green door. From the viewpoint of presentation, it is the third person narrative. It sounds more objective, with the author rather distant from the events depicted in the text. The author does not impose his perspective on us.

The main character of the story under analysis is Rudolf Steiner, a man who belongs to the middle class of American society of the beginning of the 20th century. His image is created through the direct and indirect personage’s characterizations. Directly the author tells us that he is a piano salesman, a commonplace citizen on the one hand, but on the other hand he is (as the author characterizes him) “a true adventurer; few were the evenings on which he didn’t go forth from his hall bedchamber in search of the unexpected”. No matter where he goes, he tries to find an adventure in every thing possible.

His adventurous spirit has already led him “into strange paths” several times, but he still retains it. This time, having received a card with the inscription “The Green Door” from a distributer in the street, he undertakes another evening journey. Rudolph Steiner is a commonplace American and not an American at the same time. He lives here but he is quite different from the capitalist majority. O’Henry characterizes Rudolph indirectly through his speech: “This is ridiculous to go without eating”, “I’m coming back tomorrow to see how you are getting along – you can’t get rid of me so easily”.

This difference was (in those days) and is vitally important nowadays, Rudolph is deeply hu’mane, despite the unspoken law of the society (as consequences of the so-called “social darvinism” – the fittest survive); he treats poor people the same way as all others and the financial state of a person he deals with is of no difference for him. We can draw this conclusion from his ‘conduct(поведінка) towards the girl: he understands not only her helplessness, but spends his (probably all his) money to support her, to take her out of trouble, showing his philanthropic [?

At the same time there are a lot of informal words (‘a bloody Englishman’, ‘watch your tongue’, ‘nice one, Pat’, ‘that’s more like it’) which create a contrast to formal vocabulary. Pat speaks formally to show his intelligence, but everybody who works in the court answers informally. Due to the vocabulary used, the story is very emotional. The expressive author’s style is created with the help of lexical expressive means and stylistic devices.

For example, metaphors: ‘the curtain goes up’, ‘Miss Piggy’; simile: ‘Miss Piggy looked as if she would have happily supported capital punishment for shoplifters’; comparison: ‘Adams was now dressed in a long black gown, looking like Pat’s old headmaster’; pun: ‘joist and a girder – Joyce… and Goethe’; flashback: ‘Have I ever told you about the time I tried to get a job on a building site in Liverpool? ’. A combination of these expressive means and stylistic devices makes the author’s style highly original and easily recognizable. From the viewpoint of composition, the text is made up of the following parts: exposition.

It embraces Paragraph 1 of the text and introduces the protagonist of the story and the scene of the action. In this part the author prepares us for the problems the text deals with; development of events. It is the biggest in size and the most important part of the story. It starts with Paragraph 2 and is developed up to the end of the text, up to the last paragraph and includes the climax and the anticlimax. Here all the events take place and all the conflicts are stated and revealed; the climax is the moment when Pat is sentenced to three months which is not enough for him;

The anticlimax is the next paragraph after the climax. Here Pat with the help of his ability to manipulate people, changes his verdict to six months. This text doesn’t include either an introduction or a conclusion. This can be explained by the fact that the text is abridged, so there are parts of the story which both precede and follow the given text or the author wanted to make an open final. In conclusion it is worth mentioning that the story analysed is the author’s message to be strong and confident people because it is the only way to survive in modern cruel world.

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