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STORY AND AUTHOR’S ACCOUNT This story was written by O. Henry, which was William Sydney Porter’s Penname. He was well known for telling stories in which characters are common people involved in coincidental circumstances, and also for using the ingredient of irony in them. Well, we can clearly see that in this story in which the main character is a homeless guy, who gets arrested when he had finally decided to get a life.
SETTINGS Winter was coming, breeze is getting colder and colder every day, therefore Soapy needs to find a refuge for him. His longing is spending winter time in prison. His clothing and aspect are important during certain passages of the story. Soapy Dislikes Charity, which makes prefer to go to prison rather than staying in a shelter or charity house
CHARACTERS The main character of the story is Soapy a homeless guy who struggles to get himself arrested to spend winter time in a decent place.
PLOT As winter time was coming, Soapy who was a homeless guy needed to find a place to stay during the next three months, as he could no longer bear the cold weather at nights. And for years prison had been his shelter during this time of the year. His only goal was to get himself arrested by a cop. He first tried to go into a fancy restaurant, in which he was expecting to eat and then say he had no money to pay, but his looks gave him away before he stepped in the place. His second attempt was to smash a cobble-stone against a window shop and stay there to get arrested, but when the cop came and asked who had done such a thing he did not believe Soapy it was him as the cop thought that whoever did it would not have stayed there waiting for him to arrive. Then he went out for his third try. This time he managed to go into a modest restaurant and eat there, but when he declared himself as penniless the waiters only threw him out, and a cop standing in the corner just laughed at the whole scene. Now Soapy was discouraged and took him a while to try it again. So he saw what seemed to be the perfect occasion, a woman staring at window shop and a cop at a stone’s throw from her. So he went ahead and harassed the young woman, but to his surprised she was willing to accept his indecent proposal. Another plan that went to the ground. After this he tried performing a “disorderly conduct” making the impression of a drunkard, dancing and screaming in the middle of the sidewalk, but this time he was thought to be a Yale student celebrating a victory. And bluecoats had been given as orders not to pay attention to this kind of conduct. Then he tried stealing an umbrella from a well dressed man in a cigar store. And as Soapy walked out of the store the owner of the umbrella hailed “my umbrella” so Soapy stopped and dared the man to call a cop to settle the matter, but it turned out that the supposed owner of the umbrella had picked it up in a restaurant himself and thought Soapy was the real owner. After all these attempts Soapy was walking the streets disappointed on his failures, and suddenly he is in front of a church and listening to an anthem played in an organ. This melody kind of hypnotized him and while he was in this state of mind a wonderful change occurred in his soul. He said to himself he would get out of the stagnation he was in and make a man of himself again. But as he was submerged in his thoughts a cop came up to him and took him in. the sentence was three months in prison.
PERSONAL IMPRESSION It is a very interesting story because of the way it is told, the way the character feelings and opinions are presented. The story is full of little details which contribute to set the stage for each event of it. On the other hand, the author presents Soapy who is someone with no expectations of life, but also someone who has a sudden change and decides to make a respectful man out of himself again, but sadly then again destiny comes into play and he ends up in prison, which is what he had ironically looked for through the entire story. We consider the author is trying to show how someone can lose his dignity and end up like soapy, until the point they do not remember who they were and what the longed for before.