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51 votes
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How could sixty cents of $1.87 be in pennies?

There used to be a three-cent piece. Assuming that "The Gift of the Magi" is set in the US at around the time of its publication in 1905, there was a three-cent piece which was still minted ...
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15 votes

How could sixty cents of $1.87 be in pennies?

A quick look at Wikipedia lists a few obsolete coins which could be involved here, beyond the half cent: Two-cent bronze: 2¢, 1863–1873 Three-cent nickel: 3¢, 1865–1889 Trime (Three-cent silver): 3¢, ...
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14 votes
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Looking for an old O. Henry story about a wealthy young man trying to woo a "genteel poor" young lady in New York City

The story is called The Discounters of Money. It occurs in the collection of O. Henry stories called Roads of Destiny. It occupies pages 379 to 384 in this book. …and there you have young Howard ...
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  • 1,294
11 votes

How to understand “a dumb or a talking brute” in The Ransom of Red Chief?

Yes, essentially this is a minor wordplay and double meaning. A "dumb brute" is a phrase that was commonly used to denote an animal, not necessarily even a savagely violent animal. I say &...
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8 votes
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Looking for an O.Henry story where a young man from the country working in the city marries a socialite and then goes for a visit to his home

The Defeat of the City It's the protagonist who issues the challenge, but the other details seem to match: That night when the greetings and the supper were over, the entire family, including Buff, ...
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7 votes
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What does the phrase "the silent imputation of parsimony" mean in The Gift of the Magi by O.Henry?

O. Henry is considered a master of the short story, and this excerpt tells you why. His very first paragraph tells you something about a main character and about the conflict. Parsimony, or penny ...
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  • 1,139
7 votes

How could sixty cents of $1.87 be in pennies?

Gift of the Magi was published in 1905. As others have already identified, the US had a two-cent piece until 1872 and a three-cent piece until 1889 (but with much lower production after 1875). The US ...
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6 votes

Meaning of "rubber" as a verb in O. Henry

The entire phrase is a nonsensical piece of wordplay "The lame walk and the blind see" is a well known biblical phrase, said by Jesus to indicate his holiness. The phrase is corrupted here into ...
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5 votes

How to understand “a dumb or a talking brute” in The Ransom of Red Chief?

A simpler interpretation is that that "dumb or talking" is merely contrasting "unable to speak" and "speaking". While you could extend that to discuss "human or ...
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5 votes
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"The Gift of the Magi" Literary Analysis: Symbolism and Time

The title Gift of the Magi, is a biblical allusion from Matthew 2:1 reading: “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to ...
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  • 1,388
5 votes
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Meaning of “dactylis” in O. Henry’s “The Trimmed Lamp”

The paragraph in which the quote from the question can be found goes as follows: "Him?" said Nancy, with her coolest, sweetest, most impersonal, Van Alstyne Fisher smile; "not for mine. I saw him ...
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5 votes

O. Henry story about a grandfather who sits a boy down on a porch to tell a story about a grandfather who sits a boy down etc

This is a traditional joke story, more amusing to the teller than the listener, that has existed for well over a hundred years. Dads tell the story to troll their kids. There are many versions. ...
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5 votes

Meaning of "rubber" as a verb in O. Henry

While both of the existing answers touch on relevant matters I believe they both miss the mark in terms of the intended meaning. @frathoss cites a range of definitions including one which supports ...
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5 votes

What does the phrase "the silent imputation of parsimony" mean in The Gift of the Magi by O.Henry?

In the story it is clear from the starting line that Del and Jim were poverty-stricken. Such was the extent of poverty that even the cents were in pennies. Henry mentions the pennies were saved ...
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  • 129
2 votes

What is the meaning of this sentence from A Retrieved Reformation?

This solves the crux of the problem. Here, Ben Price is confident that Jimmy Valentine could, in a way, dodge the judiciary; he was to serve full term in jail. To show him clemency is just another ...
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2 votes

What does the line "The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them." mean in The Gifts Of The Magi?

That refers to the "answer" alluded to in the previous sentence. When you have a million dollars, you don't appreciate the things you already have. In the case of their gifts, it really is the thought ...
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  • 1,139
1 vote

O. Henry story about a grandfather who sits a boy down on a porch to tell a story about a grandfather who sits a boy down etc

You might be actually thinking about Faulkner's 'The Reivers', which begins with "Grandfather said:", and the rest of the book is one long quotation.
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1 vote

What does the line "The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them." mean in The Gifts Of The Magi?

As I see it, the gift that the Magi didn't bring was sacrifice (sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house), which doesn't require money (Eight dollars a week or a million a year -...
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1 vote

What does the line "The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them." mean in The Gifts Of The Magi?

I differ in my perception here. The Magi brought gifts that are considered wise, the reason is the gold brought as gift symbolises 'influence' which infant Jesus was to acquire afterwards as a ...
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