Monday, March 23, 2009

Mammon and the Archer by O. Henry

It's Monday again...and time for a third installment of Short Story Monday. The decision to choose an O. Henry story came from a comment Molly made last week. She enjoys Short Story Monday because it introduces her to stories other than the O. Henry and Guy de Maupassant she generally teaches her 9th graders. Now I must have read "The Gift of the Maji" in high school, but I have no recollection of it. So, I decided to re-visit O. Henry with one of his lesser-known stories.
Mammon and the Archer opens with the line:
"Old Anthony Rockwell, retired manufacturer and proprietor of Rockwell's
Eureka Soap, looked out the library window of his fifth Avenue mansion and

It's written with a tone of cheerful cynicism emphasising the pleasures of money and setting up an ideological battle between love and money. Mammon (and I had to look this up) is wealth regarded as evil and the object of greedy pursuit. The archer, of course, is Cupid. Anthony's son, Robert, is bemoaning the fact that the love of his life will be leaving for Europe before he has the opportunity to reveal his true feelings.

Anthony represents wealth in the story. He makes his position clear:
"I bet my money on money every time. I've been through the encyclopaedia down to Y looking for something you can't buy with it; and I expect to have to take up
the appendix next week..."
Love is championed by his sister, Ellen:
"... Aunt Ellen, gentle, sentimental, wrinkled, sighing, oppressed by
"Oh, Anthony," sighed Aunt Ellen, "I wish you would not think so much of
money. Wealth is nothing where true affection is concerned. Love is

O. Henry's stories are famous for surprise endings. Mammon and the Archer is no different. Just as you think the story is wrapping up, a surprise twist grabs the reader adding to the delight of the story.
Read the entire story on-line here, then visit The Book Mine Set to see who else is participating in Short Story Monday this week.


  1. I am so bad...I don't even think I have read The Gift of the Magi. I have just heard people say, "you know that story where the girl sells her hair". Yes, I know it but have never read it or any of the other O. Henry stories. I think I will have to remedy that this year and this one will be at the top of my list.

  2. BookPsmith,
    This story was really fun to read! I plan to read (possibly re-read?) The Gift of the Maji very soon, too.

  3. have you read the stories????????????
    then visit my blog and read mine as///o henry,s stories were recognised only at last ..i dont want to be like that


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