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Tóm tắt: A study on social reality’s reflection in O. Henry’s selected short stories


1. Rationale
Language is one of the most effectively communicative ways among each
other. It is also a bridge linking us with the world civilization. Besides using
fluently native language, knowing foreign language is really necessary. English
is the key to open the integration - door. Learning English has become an
indispensible need for everyone.
Learning English not only know about basic skills, grammar or
pronunciation but also know about culture as well as literature. Literature is a
part of a country’s culture, heritage and history. It gives us a detailed preview of
human experience. Moreover, literature is also important in learning a foreign
language due to literature improves reading fluency through the expansion of
vocabulary and grammar structure. Thanks to reading literatures, readers will be
broaden knowledge about traditional culture, value and belief of people and give
us a deeper understanding about language we are learning.
In early 20th century, American literature had important movements in
drama, poetry, fiction and criticism took place in the years before, during and
after World War I. The authors at this period struggled to understand the
changes occurring in society. There are various themes on war, love, people,
culture…which known with many notable writers such as Ernest Hemingway,

Jack London, Mark Twain, Margaret Mitchel….especially O. Henry.
O. Henry is a wonderful creativeness. The most ordinary events (a menu,
a drab house, a walkway to the house ...) turned into the uniqueness of his work.
His story expressed the life experience and therefore his characters are placed on
the real people whom he was acquainted. He wrote about social issues and
economics of lower class. He put the voiceless people into his work with
compassion and sympathy. His works are from these experiences of his
observation and the social reality has been reflected in his books so much. The
America’s social reality in early 20th century was shown deeply and wholly.

Due to the reason above, the researcher decided to choose the study with
the title “A study on social reality’s reflection in O. Henry’s selected short
stories” with the aim to do an analysis the social reflection expressed in the
some short stories.
2. Previous research

In the world
In the research on “Social-realism in the short stories of O. Henry and

Perm Chand” by Tawnier Jehan, the researcher studied about the reality in
society was shown in stories of two writers. They take whether consciously or
not, what their predecessors pass on to them, through the great treasure house of
thought and feeling registered in their works. Then from their space in time and
place, the socio-political conditions of the immediate world influencing their
creativity and their contribution in turn, impact the lives of people; individual
lives and also certain section or class of society.
In another “O. Henry and his short story” by Meng Lingmin, The
researcher showed that O. Henry’s mouths-piece of lover people, the sympathy
for the poor people and its origin, reflecting the ordinary people and its origin,
characteristics of his writing.

In Vietnam
In Viet Nam, many people like and read his stories. There is also a study

on “Nghệ thuật xây dựng cốt truyện trong truyện ngắn O. Henry” (The art of
building plot in O. Henry short stories) by Pham Yen My, Van Hien University.

The researcher studied on how to build plot in O. Henry stories.

In Hung Vuong University
There is a study on “O. Henry’s warm human sympathy for common

people in his short stories: “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Last Leaf” by Phan
Thi Huyen. In this study, the researcher analyzed O. Henry’s warm human
sympathy for common people in two stories. However, this is the first time the
study on O. Henry’s social reality’s reflection in his short stories is carried out in
Hung Vuong University.

3. Research purpose
The research aims at:
- Scrutinizing the American society in O. Henry’s time, the author O. Henry
and his social reality’s reflection.
- Analyzing the social reality’s reflection in “The Gift of the Magi”, “The Last
Leaf”’ and “The Furnished Room”.
- Finding out the messages O. Henry tries to convey to the readers through the
real social pictures expressed in “The Last Leaf”, “The Gift of the Magi” and
“The Furnished Room”.
4. Research Questions
The research will find out the answers to the following questions:
- What is the social reality’s reflection in selected O. Henry’s short stories –
“The Last Leaf”, “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Furnished Room”?
-What is the message of O. Henry through social reality’s reflection in “The Last
Leaf”, “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Furnished Room”?
5. Research Methods
In order to accomplish this thesis systematically and adequately, some
research methods are used:
- Theoretical method: Studying the related documents to give background of
America society and American literature in at the end of 19 th century and early
20th century, the life and work of O. Henry and three short stories “The Last
Leaf”, “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Furnished Room”.
- Analysis method: from data got from many different materials related to the
topic, analyzing to get the final results.
- Inductive and deductive methods: are used to analyze the social reality in two
short stories.
6. Scope of the research
The study focuses on analyzing the social reality’s reflection in three of
O. Henry short stories: “The Gift of the Magi”, “The Last Leaf” and “The
Furnished Room”.

7. Design of the study
The study consists of three parts and references:
Part A. Introduction
In this part, the researcher gives an overall introduction about rationale,
research purpose, research question, methods, research procedure, and scope of
the study.
Part B. The study
Chapter 1: Literature review
In this part, the study focus on giving the relationship between reality and
literature, giving the background of American society, the feature of American
literature in late 19th century and early 20th century and O. Henry’s biography
and literary career and his works “The Gift of the Magi”, “The Last Leaf” and
“The Furnished Room”.
Chapter 2: The social reality’s reflection in O. Henry’s stories and in “The
Last Leaf”, “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Furnished Room”.
An analysis on the picture of social reality which is presented in three
selected O. Henry’s short stories about the life, destiny and love of human.
Chapter 3: The messages of O. Henry through social reality’s reflection in
“The Last Leaf”, “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Furnished Room”.
Through analyzing social reality reflected in O. Henry’s stories,
researcher will show some messages which the writer wants to send to readers.
Part C. Conclusion
This part summarizes the major findings of the study, gives implications,
lists limitations, mentions suggestions, and presents conclusion.
In this chapter, the researcher has given the rationale, previous research,
research purpose, research questions, methods, scope as well as design of the study.
The next chapter, researcher will present the relationship between reality and
literature. The researcher will also present the background of American society and
features of American literature in O. Henry’s time, O. Henry’s life and his works
“The Gift of the Magi”, “The Last Leaf” and “The Furnished Room”.


The relationship between reality and literature.
As being given in “Van hoc va hien thuc trong tam nhin hien dai”

(Literature and reality in modern vision) by Tran Dinh Su (2010), literature and
reality is a central problem in the theory of literature. According to the analysis
of American literary theorist M. H. Abrams, most of literary theories are all built
on the relationship of the basic elements of art activities: world (reality), works
and artists (authors).
From the relationship between the works (literary) with the world, we
have ancient stimulation theory and reflected theory today. From the
relationship between the works with artists, we have creative theory. From the
work itself in the relationship between the artists and recipients, we have
content, meanings, symbols, games, entertainment. Therefore, literature
reflecting the reality is still a basic, important and indispensable principle.
1.1.1. Literature is the mirror that reflects reality and time.
From the Renaissance to modern times, the ideological of realistic
simulation is still primarily thought of criticism. As Stanhdal in Tran Dinh Su
(2010), “Van hoc va hien thuc trong tam nhin hien dai”, said that “Literature is
the mirror of social life”, or Balzac “the writer is secretary of the times” and
Lenin “if you are a great writer, your works reflects at least a few key aspects of
revolution”. For the masters of realism, the reality’s reflection means that looks
for the value perceptions, morality and aesthetics of life, strips of lies, exposes
all ulcers, rips all mask and throw oneself into the process of social progress.
The ideas that were expressed quite right about the relationship between
literature and historical life on the overall level, means that all the events,
characters, thoughts and feelings expressed in literature are the reflection
of society.


1.1.2. Reality in literature is the meaningful world created by practice.
According to “Van hoc va hien thuc trong tam nhin hien dai” (Literature
and reality in modern vision) by Tran Dinh Su (2010), the concept of reality as
objective existence, independent with human consciousness has been
inappropriate with the fact. The reality in literature is not same to the reality of
the social sciences, natural sciences and politics. The reality in literature closely
connects to politics, but it is not entirely similar with the political reality. As
L.Tolstoi said that we can understand that the literature’s reality is the
meaningful world that people live in it. The universe, nature, people, society,
culture, objects are only reality when they are meaningful for human. Practice
allows people to discover the sense of world for both life and arts. The mean of
things changes over the course of practice. Literature reflects the reality
1.2. The background of American society in late 19th century and early 20th
In late 19th century and early 20th century, industrialization has brought
the society many important changes. The simple, frugal, self-sustaining lives of
the early pioneers were replaced with an industrial age which changed the
country almost overnight. Great cities were built along the coast lines and at
strategic central point; railroads links every part of the country; and sprawling
factories offered inducements workers to quit tilling the soil. These changes
were shown in many aspects about economy, politic and society. As according
to C.C. Regier in The Era of Muckrakers (p.5) “In the years that elapsed
between the days of Irving, Hawthorne, and Poe, and those of O. Henry, great
and momentous changes took place in both the economic and social structures
of the country”.
1.3. The features of American literature in late 19th century and early 20th
The 19th century and early 20th century witnessed this paradigm shift
across cultures and literature written there around saw it projected with sincerity
and firmness of purpose.

In most people's minds, the years following the Civil War symbolized a
time of healing and rebuilding. For those engaged in serious literary circles,
however, that period was full of upheaval. A literary civil war raged on between
the camps of the romantics and the realists and later, the naturalists.
The writing during this period was also very regional. American realists
built their plots and characters around people's ordinary, everyday lives.
Additionally, their works contained regional dialects and extensive dialogue
which connected well with the public.
1.4. O. Henry’s life and his works “The Gift of the Magi”, “The Last Leaf”
and “The Furnished Room”
1.4.1. O. Henry’s life and works
O. Henry, whose real name was William Sydney Porter, was rated as the
best short story writer in the United States in the early years of the twentieth
century. He was born in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1862. Porter died
penniless and alone in 1910.
During his 10 year literary career, O. Henry wrote about 300 short stories.
Most of his stories are set in his own time, in contemporary present – the early
years of the 20th century. Many of them take place in New York City and deal
for most part with ordinary people: clerks, policemen, waitresses.
O. Henry was an outstanding humorist. He worked out and enriched all
the types of the short story: the anecdote, the adventure story, tales and sketches.
The best of his works were published in books: “Cabbages and Kings”, “The
Four Million”, “Heart of the West”, “The Voice of the City” and others. He was
most famous for his stories of city. O. Henry wrote nearly 150 stories with a
New York background. His works have considerable influence on American
literature. He was a born writer of great talent. The conversation is witty,
humorous and often exact and precise. O. Henry is one of the most widely
published American authors. His works have been translated into nearly every
language. He has been called “The American Maupassant” and is ranked among
the world’s outstanding short story writers.

1.4.2. Some main feature of O. Henry’s stories Story Structure
“Porter's first biographer”, C. Alphonso Smith, pointed out in O. Henry
Biography (1916) that O. Henry's stories had four stages. In the first stage, O.
Henry gets the reader's attention with a striking opening situation, called "the
arresting beginning." Exposition takes place at this stage. In the second stage,
the rising action, the reader begins to guess the story's ending. In the third stage,
the climax, the reader learns that he or she was wrong about the ending. In the
fourth stage, the falling action, the story concludes. The ending is triumphant
with a surprise involving sudden suspense. This is the story's resolution. Story Elements
O. Henry's stories were written to help people escape from their everyday
problems. The author had been a skilled storyteller since he was a teenager. He
used to entertain people in his uncle's drugstore and on the Texas ranch where he
lived as a young man. He wanted his stories to be entertaining and enjoyable. To
achieve this, he uses lively dialogue, vivid and quickly drawn descriptions,
humor, irony, chance happenings, and surprise endings. Language feature
Porter has an immense vocabulary and an acute sensitivity to word usage.
The most significant characteristic of O. Henry’s language is humor. O. Henry’s
humor is sometimes supplied by character portrayal, sometimes by the lifelike
dialogue, sometimes by his style. It mainly derives from his style. Coincidence
O. Henry's plots often involve coincidence. Coincidence (chance or luck)
also plays a key role in most of O. Henry's stories. The odd coincidences that the
characters experience add another element of humor to the story. Besides, the
common Porter’s trademark ones, which are his reversal of the narrative and his
reversal of his characters’ nature. Along the story, we see that the events are
interrelated to each other with coincidence and at the end there is what we call a
surprise twist.
8 Surprise Endings
O. Henry's stories are perhaps best known for their surprise endings, to
the point that such an ending is often referred to as an “O. Henry ending.” He set
the story running in one direction and then he converts completely the story just
when the reader is convinced of the general direction of the narrative. The reader
scarcely knows that he is suspended until the very close to the end of the story.
Just as turn on the lights and the whole tale is revealed in it’s entirely.
1.4.3. O. Henry’s selected short stories: “The Gift of the Magi”, “The Last Leaf”
and “The Furnished Room” The Gift of the Magi
The Gift of the Magi is one of the best-known American short stories,
celebrated by American short-story writer - William Sydney Porter, who wrote it
under the pseudonym O. Henry and was published in 1906 in a collection of his
short stories, The Four Million. Like The Furnished Room, and The Ransom of
Red Chief, The Gift of the Magi also bears simple yet effective use of
paradoxical coincidences to produce ironic endings. The story contains many of
the elements for which O. Henry is widely known, including poor, workingclass characters, a humorous tone, realistic detail, and a surprise ending. A major
reason given for its enduring appeal is its affirmation of unselfish love. Such
love, the story and its title suggest, is like the gifts given by the wise men, called
magi, who brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the newborn Jesus. The Last Leaf
"The Last Leaf" is a short story by O. Henry published in 1907 in his
collection The Trimmed Lamp and Other Stories. Set in Greenwich Village, it
depicts characters and themes typical of O. Henry's works. It is among the 381
short stories William Sydney Porter produced in New York City.
The setting is Greenwich Village, New York, 1905. Johnsy, Sue and
Behrman are three of the impoverished artists. One autumn, Johnsy suffers from
Pneumonia that has killed so many people at that time. Johnsy is in despair that
her life depends on the ivy leaves outside the window. She believes that the

moment the last leaf falls she will die. Her friend, Sue doesn’t know what to do
except worrying and constant nursing. Then on a cold, rainy, windy night, when
it is quite apparent that the last leaf is “dying”, Old Behrman, who regards
himself as “special mastiff-in-waiting to protect the two young artists”, defies
the cold, wet night to paint a leaf on the outdoor vine to restore the dying
Johnsy's will to live. The Furnished Room
The Furnished Room, short story by O. Henry, published serially in 1904
and then collected in The Four Million (1906).
The setting of this story is in New York City. The story is about a young
man who entered a district in which a goodly number of houses catered to
transients. He was searching for a young lady named Miss Eloise Vashner, who
he thought would be singing on the stage. After a futile search for his missing
girlfriend, commits suicide in his rented room, not knowing that it is the same
room in which his girlfriend had killed herself one week earlier.


2.1. New York City in progress in O. Henry’s selected short stories
2.1.1 New York’s streets
The street in this city was not divided by class. All streets are numbered
unanimously and do not have a road named with the name of someone. The road
system here absolutely is no roundabout, down five, seven and no down
boulevards sumptuous splendor. O. Henry once said that he wanted to live on
New York streets in all his life. The streets as well as the quarters were
described in detail and vivid in his stories.
As in the story “The Last Leaf” published in 1907. The streets have run
crazy. It is the evidence to the non-systematic construction in New York. This
has led to that county was divided into small areas and those areas acre in
strange angles and curves. These roads run zigzag which made newcomers feel
it difficult to move. The streets is also described as narrow streets with full of
moss. Moreover, the streets interlace each other as chessboard.
The road or the corner in O. Henry short stories was showed really and
clearly. It was created by meticulously observant and life experience of O.
Henry. He has traveled extensively and life had many ups and downs. These
streets are also places where he lived and wrote his works.
2.1.2 Tenement and flat
In New York, as in many other cities, more than a million people lived in
tenements. Tenements were incredibly crowded with three, four and sometimes
many more people crammed into each small room.
Firstly, this is flat. Flat dwellers are of one type that O. Henry portrayed
extensively in his stories. In the story “The Gift of the Magi”, the young couple
lived in a very unassuming flat; drab, gray and decaying flat.
A terrible picture of the living conditions and of the people who occupy
furnished room is given in the story “The Furnished Room”. Here a young man

applied at the door of a brick tenement house for a room. Its sordid atmosphere,
the odor of dust and decaying food, the open curiosity and prying of the inmates,
all conjure up a terrible world picture that is an indictment of housing condition
in New York at that time. In addition, the furnishing of the room was the
unusual decayed furniture. It seemed to be very obsolete and uncomfortable.
In another story “The Last Leaf”, the story depicts life as it was lived by
Sue and Johnsy in a furnished room at the top of squatty, the story brick building
which was covered by an old, old ivy vine, gnarled and decayed at the roots.
2.2 The contrast of living condition in O. Henry’s selected short stories
2.2.1 Residential component in New York in late 19th century- early 20th
In late 19th century, hundreds of thousands of women moved to the cities,
therefore, in search of work and community. As in the story “The Last Leaf”,
two young girls, Sue and Johnsy left her home to come to New York to search
for a new life and to probably have chance to fulfill their dream. Or in the story
“The Furnished room”, the young man also came to New York to find his
girlfriend who disappeared home to go to this city.
At that time, New York is gathered by a lot of American artists. In the
story “The Last Leaf”, there are many artists coming to New York City. And
three main characters in this story, Sue, Johnsy and Old Behrman also were
immigrants and painters. In another story “The Furnished Room”, Most of
immigrants in this story are artists – theatrical people.
In addition, O. Henry also wrote about the young couple living in the
boarding house with a low rent. This is Della and Jim in “The Gift of the Magi”.
Besides the immigrants who are homeless and tenants, there is also a part
of housekeeper or the owner of shops. As in the story “The Furnished Room”,
Mrs. Mc Cool and Mrs. Purdy are one of representatives for housekeepers as
well as the richer. Or in the story “The Gift of the Magi”, this is Madame
Softronie. She is the owner of hair shop. She represents for the cold, uncaring world.


2.2.2 Fate of people living in New York City
The works of O. Henry during his time in New York is in an important
period of American history. This is major environment creating crowded colors,
and writer tried to create in which the lives, fates with different looks.
As in the story “The Gift of the Magi”, Della and Jim is a young couple.
They lived in a shabby flat and they were very poor. They are struggling just to
pay the expenses of their small flat.
New York at that time attracted many artists. O. Henry also is one of these
artists. So, he understands clearly and deeply about the living of them. And then,
he brought them into his stories. He talked about destiny and their life so much.
And in the story “The Last Leaf”, a little district in west Washington Square
became “the colony” of poor artists. For another story “The Furnished Room”,
at the beginning of the story, O. Henry has given a picture about the life of
immigrants. They are homeless. They lived an unstable life. From residents to
heart and mind, they are transient. The room the young man rented was lived by
many people. Most of them are theatrical people.
2.3 Mutual sympathy
The composition of O. Henry wrote about the problems of social and
economic of oppression and ill-fated class. In his work, love, empathy, sacrifice
for others has been shown clearly. As in the story “The Furnished Room”, a
young man loves a young girl. However the girl who he loves so much left her
house to come to the city. He also left to find his lover. He had found for months
but he has yet not had the result.
Another famous story of O. Henry about love is The Gift of the Magi. It is
a popular Christmas story about love and sacrifice. It is the story of a poor,
young couple whose love for each other is the most important thing in their
lives. Such is their love that they're led to sacrifice their most valuable
possessions to find Christmas gifts for each other. The warm home they make
together contrasts with the drabness of their poverty and the dreary world out.
Another story for love is The Last Leaf. However, the story is deep-felt
love between poor artists. The love wins poverty, disease.

3.1. Love is more important than anything
O' Henry's stories (written in the late 19th and early 20th century -- he
died before World War I) are not exactly moral tales, but his stories conveys a
simple idea: love conquers all, and love is more important than material goods.
In "The Gift of the Magi," the two main characters possess a love for each
other that is so strong that they are willing to sacrifice their greatest treasures for
each other, with no regrets. Also, they do not obsess over superficial things like
In the story “The Last Leaf”, a picture about the poor American artist’s
life was shown. However, the profound meaning of the story, as the main sound
of the song, is the deep-felt love between poor artists. That love is more valuable
than art. It makes art become alive.
Or in the story “The Furnished Room”, for love, the young man spent a
lot of time and money to enter to New York to find his lover.
3.2. Sacrifice and selflessness
A sacrifice is the act of giving up something, or not having something or
doing something yourself, to help somebody else.
In “The Gift of the Magi”, the young couple sacrificed their prized
possessions to buy a gift for each other. It is also a timeless story of selflessness.
They both gave their most valuable possessions to insure the happiness of their spouse.
In “The Last Leaf”, we saw how Mr. Behrman gave up his life to help
Johnsy. The last leaf is Behrman’s masterpiece. It takes Johnsy back to her life
in which she can carries out her dream. And also, the painting reminds readers of
the great sacrifice of honest artist. We make small sacrifices almost every day.


3.3. Never give up or lose hope
Hope is important factor in life which helps everyone overcome
difficulties and achieve success. In his stories, besides describing about the life
of poor people, O. Henry also build and create his characters hope in life. This is
expressed clearly through many his short stories.
As in the story “The Last Leaf”, the last leaf on the wall is hope and life
of Johnsy. Johnsy towards the last leaf, she does not toward death but towards
longer life. Evidence shows that when the last leaf refused to leave the life,
Johnsy was cured. The leaf symbolizes for Johnsy. If the leaf brave battling the
rain to survive, Johnsy also brave fight disease to live. This aura sense: people
need to have faith life.
In “The Gift of the Magi”, when Della sold her hair to get money to buy a
Christmas gift for her husband, she still believed that her hair would grow up
quickly. Soon, she will have a hair as she ever had.
Or in the story “The Furnished Room”, although the young man does not
exactly know his lover whether go to New York or not and he had found for a
long time, he still find her. However, he still believe that his lover enter there
and she still alive.
3.4 Social critique of America at that time
O. Henry is one of the writers of critical realism in late 19th - early 20th
century. The whole reality of American at the time was put into his works
honestly and lively.
As in the story “The Gift of the Magi”, O. Henry has given a picture about
the poor living of a young couple. Besides, he also presented the reality about
the working condition which was expressed through Jim. Jim is one of the
representatives of employee at that time with low pay and has to work in a poor
working condition.
In other stories “The Last Leaf” and “The Furnished Room”, the wave of
immigrants in America was shown clearly. Most of them were poor artists living
in shabby tenements. Their destiny seemed to be unstable.

In addition, O. Henry also criticized the cold, emotionless attitude of
bourgeoisie. They do not have love to each other. Only making profit, they
missed moral values. They are Madame Softronie in “The Gift of the Magi” or
Mrs. Mc Cool and Mrs. Purdy in “The Furnished Room”. They are the
representative of the materialistic world and primary odd to the emotional world
of the story.


1. Major findings
Throughout what the researchers have done above, the knowledge of the
O. Henry’s life, career and features of writing style, the introduction of some
selected O. Henry’s short stories were showed. In addition, readers can see that
the social reality is reflected through three famous short stories of O. Henry
“The Gift of the Magi”, “The Last Leaf” and “The Furnished Room”.
Some characteristic of American society at the end of nineteenth century
– early twentieth century are expressed through the life as well as the destiny of
a segments of the population, mainly immigrants in New York City. In addition,
there are some meaningful messages which O. Henry wants to send to readers
with hope of improving their thoughts about love and life.
The first is the reflection of social reality in some selected O. Henry’s
short stories “The Gift of the Magi”, “The Last Leaf” and “The Furnished Room”.
First of all, a picture about the reality in American society is expressed.
The wave of immigrants has changed most of the appearance of cities,
especially New York City. There was too much immigrants to enter to New
York. The system of street and building were rebuilt. There was many new
street, new flat, new public building and so on. However, behind the gaudy and
twinkle of these building, there was not little the tenement and shappy flat where
the poor immigrants lived. Second of all, the fate and destiny of these
immigrants is also shown clearly in three stories. O. Henry has brought his
experience and fine observation into his stories. The life of his characters was
presented truthfully. They are most of poor artists coming from different
regions. They are immigrants, so they rented the house and flat with low rent.
Their life is not stable. Finally, this is the sympathy and love between man and
man. They can sacrifice their own self for the person whom they love.
Last but not least, O. Henry sends his messages through the stories “The
Gift of the Magi”, “The Last Leaf” and “The Furnished Room” is about love,
sacrifice, selflessness and hope. Besides, the author also gives social critique of

America. The first is about love. Love is more important than anything. For
love, they can give up the most precious things, even the life. Besides, believe
and hope is also always presented in each characters. This helps us overcome all
difficulties. In addition, the author also expose the real appearance of America
society and criticize the cold, uncaring world in America at that time.
2. Implications
This section provides some implications for teaching and learning
literature. Through literature, the readers can explore about history and culture.
Especially, the study also provides readers the knowledge of literature and
American life through three selected short stories on the major findings
described in the previous section.
The main findings of the study show that O. Henry’s outlook on life,
which he expresses through his works, is affected mainly by social background
in his time. Thus to know about O. Henry’s plots of works students should learn
about the historical context in late 19th century– early 20th century. This is the
time occurred many historical events in O. Henry’s time. In addition, the
researcher suggests that students should watch documentary films and other
types of films related to American in late 19th century – early 20th century. In
addition, the study is very helpful because it helps learners have more
understanding about literature, the country and people of the language we are
studying. It also means for readers approach to American history. Due to
American life is one of the elements that express in many aspects of American
such as politic, economy, education and literature is no exception.
In addition, from the major findings, O. Henry can introduce the messages
to the readers to apply in the real life. The readers know the significance of true
love. Love can make anything. Love is more important than anything. These
messages will become the good advices for university students who are standing
on the threshold of life because in real life they will get into more new
relationship firstly is love then marriage. One more message that the author
wants to send to the readers is about selflessness and sacrifice. Everyone has a

heart. However, the heart is good or bad depending on each one. In addition, the
last but not least message is about hope. Never give up your hope in any
circumstance. If you have hope, you can overcome anything to have a happy
life. The author has also given a full view about the America’s society. Through
this reality, we have a look comprehensively about America at that time. Thus,
the messages withdrawn from these stories are good at educating the personality
for the learners. So they should be paid attention to and properly applied in the
real life. Thanks to this finding, it suggests the learners who want to do research
on every aspects related to literary works that every literary works carry the
hope and wish of the authors with the aim to improve the society or develop
people’s personality. Therefore, after analyzing a novel or a story, you should
try to find out the message authors aims to convey.
Finally, the universities should allocate more time for teaching and
learning literature. Besides, they should invest more facilities and equipment for
teaching and learning foreign language such as reference books and visual aids
to help students learn literature well.
3. Limitations of the study and suggestions
In spite of all the efforts the researcher has made and the advices and
assistance she has received, her study cannot avoid some shortcomings.
Firstly, because of the limitation of time and the lack of books for
references, the analysis on the reflection of social reality in some selected O.
Henry short stories may not be as deeply as expected.
Secondly, the study has analyzed some aspects of American’s society
expressed in three short stories about the life in urban and the destiny of
immigrants; it cannot cover all aspects.
Thus, the researcher herself hopes that other aspects which have not been
mentioned here will be completed fully in further studies. Moreover, this
research is the opinion of the researcher, so it is encouraged for the further
studies to find more creative ways to analyze a literary works.


4. Conclusion
In conclusion, after an introduction about O. Henry and his career, writing
style and her works, after an analysis on the reflection of American social reality
through three stories “The Gift of the Magi”, “The Last Leaf” and “The
Furnished Room”, the study finally withdraws his messages to readers. The
researcher hopes that all of you have the overall look on the reality of American
society as well as the life of a class in American at the end of 19 th century –
early 20th century. Readers should have time to feel and understand about the
life and people. Each person is an example of life and fate.
The researcher highly appreciates all the comments and remarks from
lecturers as well as students about the limitations of the study so that it can be


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