1. Analyzing Point of View
In the O. Henry short story “The Gift of the Magi,” the plot is told from a third person perspective – there is an outside narrator who is none of the characters within the story, merely recounting what Della and Jim are going through. This point of view remains consistent throughout the short story, not shifting at any point – this shows complete objectivity on the subject of Della and Jim, providing an outside perspective that is without bias on either side. This allows the reader to discover things along with the narrator, as Della or Jim would betray their perspectives (what is in their present) before the proper dramatic time. The point of view being outside of them lends the content greater suspense, as we wonder what will happen to the couple. The narrator says about crying that “Della did it…Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles and smiles, with sniffles predominating” (Ch. 5, p. 6). This allows the outside events of an other to be placed into perspective.
The hills in the Ernest Hemingway short story “Hills Like White Elephants” are a perfect example of a symbol – they mean a lot of things to a lot of people, and they tie in perfectly with the theme of the story. The hills represent the theme of beauty and tranquility, as well as escape and salvation. “The girl was looking off at the line of hills. They were white in the sun and the country was brown and dry,” says Hemingway of a woman the man in the story is admiring (Ch. 7, p. 5). She equates hills to white elephants, which is strange, considering that hills in this story are typically meant to be showcasing beauty, a quality which white elephants subjectively lack. Escaping and separating are meant to be one and the same, represented by mountains and rivers that are discussed as this girl and this man split up after this conversation in a Central American bar. The symbol of the hills, mountains and rivers promise untold horizons and change, of which these two characters must find once they part ways.
Hemingway, Ernest. (1927). Journey into Literature, ed. R. Wayne Clugston. Bridgepoint Education, Inc. 2010.
O. Henry. (1906). “The Gift of the Magi.” Journey into Literature, ed. R. Wayne Clugston.
Bridgepoint Education, Inc. 2010.