O. Henry can’t count: Students notice the obvious in “The Gift of the Magi”
by Mr. Sheehy
Who knows how many times I have read the beginning of O. Henry’s story, “The Gift of the Magi.” By now I read it the same each time, emphasizing the weight of every specific detail:
“One dollar and eighty seven cents.”
“That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies.”
My pause this time is shorter, as I aim to pick up momentum through the first long sentence of the story, but just as I begin to utter the beginning of that sentence, “Pennies saved one and two at a time . . . ” a student shouts over the top of me.
“Where did the other seven cents come from?”
“What?” I ask, stopping short.
“Where did he get the other seven cents?”
I look up from my paper and see the numbers in my head. 60 pennies? But 87 cents? “I don’t know,” I admit.
“Did he have a 27 cent quarter?” the student posits.
Turning red, I stifle a laugh and bite my lip. Soon I release the laugh and spike my copy of the story to the floor.
“This is amazing!” I half yell, half laugh. “O. Henry was an idiot!
“And I had no idea!
“You guys are changing literature for me.”
- Image: Spare Pennies by: smackfu