Structured Questions Answers from Hearts and Hands by O. Henry

QUESTION AND ANSWERS from Hearts and Hands

Structured Questions from Hearts And Hands by O. Henry

Read the extract and answer the following questions: 

1. At Denver there was an influx of passengers into the coaches on the eastbound B. & M. Express. In one coach there sat a very pretty young woman dressed in elegant taste and surrounded by all the luxurious comforts of an experienced traveller. Among the newcomers were two young men; one of handsome presence with a bold, frank countenance and manner; the other a ruffled, glum-faced person, heavily built and roughly dressed. The two were handcuffed together.

1. Describe the opening scene of the story.


There was a crowd of passengers into the coaches on the eastbound B. & M. express. In one coach there was a pretty looking young woman who was sitting, reflecting all kinds of elegance and delicacy. The two newcomers were two young men, one among them was handsome with bold looks and the other was ruffled, glum-faced who was heavily built and roughly dressed. The two were handcuffed together. The coach was fully crowded and the two men could find only one vacant seat in front of the young lady.

2. Who was the pretty young lady? Describe her.


The pretty young lady was Miss Fairchild who was seated in one of the coaches on the train to Denver. She was elegantly dressed and surrounded by all the luxurious comforts which described her as an experienced traveller. She had a lovely smile and from her appearance, she seemed to be rich who had a passion for travelling. She was acquainted with one of the two passengers who arrived in the same coach in which she was sitting. She threw a lovely smile to him which made her cheeks slightly pink.

3. 'Here the linked couple seated themselves'. How was the two couple linked? What do you understand by this?


There was too much crowd on the Eastbound B. & M. Express in one coach, a pretty young stylish woman was sitting. The two young men, who were handcuffed together, entered the coach. One of them was fair and handsome and other was rough and strongly built. They were linked together as they couldn't be separated from each other. The handcuff had tied them.
It means that one of them must be a criminal and the other a policeman.

4. Why did the young lady in the coach say, "Don't you ever recognize old friends when you meet them in the West?"


The two newcomers got the vacant seat opposite the attractive young woman in the whole coach. She threw a glance at them from a distance and with a lovely smile greeted them. She held out her little grey gloved hand perhaps in order to handshake with one of the two newcomers who seemed to be her acquaintance. When she didn't receive any kind of positive response from the other side, she made this remark.

5. Why did the looks of the young lady suddenly change?


Initially, when the two men entered her coach, she seemed to be totally uninterested but soon with a lovely smile, she looked at them. She took the initiative to talk to him one of the two was her very well known by her. The younger man was roused at her voice and tried to come out of slight embarrassment of the handcuffs which suddenly clouded him.

2. "You'll excuse me for speaking miss, but, I see you're acquainted with the marshall here. If you'll ask him to speak a word for me when we get to the pen he'll do it, and it'll make things easier for me there. He's taking me to Leavenworth prison. It's seven years for counterfeiting." 
"Oh!" said the girl, with a deep breath and returning colour. "So that is what you are doing out here? A marshal!"

1. What explanation was given by the other man to the young woman about Mr Easton?


When the other man saw that young lady was acquainted with the handsome man with him and seeing him handcuffed, he sensed Easton's embarrassment. On the other hand, the pretty woman was in a state of bewilderment, so he called Easton as a marshal who was taking him to the Leavenworth prison for seven years of imprisonment in the case of counterfeiting.

2. What reason was given by Mr Easton for not going to Washington?


Mr Easton told the woman that he wanted to do something. Money, according to him had wings and to live in Washington, a lot of money is required. He saw the opportunities in the West as well. Miss Fairchild was surprised to know that Easton has preferred life in the West to become marshal over life in Washington.

3. Why did Miss Fairchild call Mr Easton 'Dashing Western Hero'?


In the course of the conversation, the ruffled man told Miss Fairchild that he was being taken to Leavenworth prison for seven years of imprisonment in the case of counterfeiting. As the conversation continued, the woman was surprised to learn that Easton had given up the life in Washington to become a Marshal in West. She was impressed with this and called 'Dashing Western Hero' who ride and shoot and face all kinds of dangers.

4. "My butterfly days are over", what kind of irony is there?


There is a verbal irony here as Mr Easton was not talking of his good days with Miss Fairchild. Rather he was talking about being locked up and not being free like a butterfly. His freedom had been snatched away because of his wrong act. But Miss Fairchild thought that he was talking about his social days and as he had taken up a job of responsibility, he won't be able to move as freely as he was earlier.

5. Why were Miss Fairchild's eyes rested upon the glittering handcuffs and what did the other man explain her?


Miss Fairchild encountered Mr Easton, one of her old acquaintances in the same coach on the train to Denver in which she was travelling. She spoke to him but was surprised to see him handcuffed with the other man. The other man guessed her embarrassment and gave her an explanation. She then continued to chat with him but her eyes were still on handcuffs. The other man told her that she should not worry as all the marshals handcuffed themselves to their prisoners.

3. "I love the West," said the girl irrelevantly. Her eyes were shining softly. She looked away out the car window. She began to speak truly and simply without the gloss of style and manner : "Mamma and I spent the summer in Denver. She went home a week ago because father was slightly ill. I could live and be happy in the West. I think the air here agrees with me. Money isn't everything. But people always misunderstand things and remain stupid ---" 

1. How did Miss Fairchild support the life of the West?


Miss Fairchild loved the life at West, when she was telling this, her eyes were shining softly. She looked out of the car window. She began to speak honestly and plainly. She and her Mumma had spent the summer in Denver. She had gone back to home as her father was ill. The young lady could live and be happy in the West. The atmosphere there suited her. She supported the view of Easton as the money was not everything.

2. How did glum-faced man take the excuse to go away from that coach?


After some conversation, the glum-faced man wished to have a drink as he had not even smoked all through the day. He further added that they had talked too much; he now wanted to go to the smoker. He was dying for a pipe. To this Easton replied that he couldn't deny a petition for tobacco.

3. What reason did the other man give for his going for a smoke and why did he do so?


Miss Fairchild kept on talking to Mr Easton but her constant attention was towards the handcuffs. In order to ease the tense situation, the glum-faced man asked Easton to take him to the smoker's room as he was half-dead for a pipe. In addition, he was also worried that Easton might reveal something about himself that should not be told to the young woman. So he intervened and requested him to be taken to the smoker room.

4. Which remark made by one of the two passengers sitting nearby creates suspicion in our mind?
How do we come to know that Mr Easton was the real convict?


When Miss Fairchild was talking to the two men, two other passengers in the same coach were listening to them and keenly observing everything. One of them remarked that Mr Easton appeared to be too young to hold the position of a Marshal. This arises doubt in reader's mind and when the other one exclaimed saying that Easton couldn't be the Marshal as no officer would handcuff his own right hand with the criminal's left hand, the truth is revealed.

5. The final twist in the story may not be expected by the readers. What is it?


There is a series of conflict in O Henry's story "Heart and Hands". Miss Fairchild when saw Mr Easton on the train, she recognizes him immediately. Easton was handcuffed to the other rough-looking man. He didn't want Miss Fairchild to notice him. But when she was sure that Easton acknowledged her, she asked him if it was their custom not to recognize the old friends in the West. The other man understood the situation and came to protect him from it. He told the young lady that Easton was the Marshal who was taking him to Leavenworth prison for seven years imprisonment for counterfeiting.
But the actual twist comes in the end when the two other co-passengers who had overheard the conversation noticed that a marshal would never handcuff a criminal to his right hand.

Compound Questions and Answers

1. (a) The main theme of the story is kindness. Elucidate.


Kindness plays an important role in the story. The glum-faced, rough-looking, real Marshall is a kind man who saves Mr Easton as well as Miss Fairchild from some embarrassment with no ulterior motives. He does not stand to gain anything out of this and yet wants to help. He makes sure Miss Fairchild comes to believe that Mr Easton is the Marshall so that she does not get a shock seeing the handcuffs on him.

Later, when Miss Fairchild seems to be hinting at being interested in Mr Easton, he decides that the lie has gone too far, and cuts it short. He saves Miss Fairchild from any further embarrassment and future heartbreak by taking the other man under the pretext of wanting to smoke. In doing so, he removes Mr Easton from her presence, so that the truth would not come out and break her illusions. His other intention is to save the young woman and the man from embarrassment.

(b) Attempt a character sketch of Miss Fairchild.


Miss Fairchild is a rich woman who has class and style. In the train, she looks and speaks how a noble class person should be. She has a full, sweet, and deliberate voice that shows that she expects to be heard. Her sweet manners also reveal she has feelings for Mr Easton. At first, she is disinterested but soon her countenance brightens and a tender pink tinges her round cheeks on recognizing Mr Easton.

Miss Fairchild is an interesting character with many different personality traits. She seems to be smart, and rich. She comes from the east coast and is adventurous enough to take a train out to Colorado during these violent western times. Like all young women of her times and status, she has marriage in mind and expresses it to the young man indirectly, "I love the West, the air agrees with me here." She wants to convey that she is romantically interested in Mr Easton and does not mind staying with him in the West. Her girlish romantic heart is happy to see the young man as a hero in the garb of a Marshall.

That she is gullible, is revealed in her instantly trusting the words of the Marshall. She becomes a victim of mistaken identity and is not shrewd enough to understand that a Marshall never ties himself to the criminal by his right hand.

(c) Explain the significance of 'hands' and 'hearts' in the story.


At the beginning of the story, we see two people, Mr Easton and a glum-faced man hand-cuffed together. It is the handcuffing that points at the 'Hands' part of the title. In fact, the way that the hands are handcuffed reveals the true identities of the two men. Miss Fairchild is misled by the unnamed man about the identity of Mr Easton as he wants to save Mr Easton from an embarrassing situation by pretending that he is not her friend, is a convict and is being taken by him to the prison. It is an observation by a passenger in the coach that reveals a Marshal will not handcuff his own right hand with that of a convict.

It is the 'hearts' part of the title that unravels the theme of the story. It is because of having a compassionate heart that the Marshall tells a lie to Miss Fairchild. In spite of the rough looks, he has a golden heart. He lies to save the young man and the girl from embarrassment and humiliation. He does not want to expose Mr Easton as a convict in front of an old friend. He tells Miss Fairchild that Mr Easton is the Marshall and he is the convict who is being taken to the prison. He wants the young woman to retain her romantic illusion. At least she will think of the young man as a daring hero, instead of having to think of him as a fraudster and counterfeiter of notes.

2. (a) Attempt a character sketch of Mr Easton.


Mr Easton is described as a handsome young man with a bold and frank countenance and manner. He is preoccupied with some thoughts and does not notice Miss Fairchild at first. When he recognises her, he is embarrassed but is quick to cover up. We are utterly shocked to know at the end, that he is a criminal and is being taken to prison by the Marshall. The lady is unaware of this fact and is led to believe otherwise. The real Marshall covers up the situation to save both the young people from embarrassment.

Mr Easton is an opportunist. He doesn't exactly lie but plays along with the Marshall. All his words have a double meaning. He does not confess that he is accused of counterfeiting and has to serve seven years in prison. Instead, he says, "money has a way of taking wings unto itself", and he requires money to keep step with the well-to-do in Washington. The opening in West', he mentions, is actually counterfeiting but the lady takes it as the job of the Marshall. Thus, he cleverly lays out an explanation as to why he has moved to the West and why he won't be able to see her in the future. He even picks up on the hint from the Marshall when he asks to go to the smoke room quickly.

(b) How are the two men a foil to each other?


Both the men are opposite to each other in appearance, behaviour and character. Mr Easton is dressed like a gentleman having good breeding and manners. The other person handcuffed to him is glum-faced, roughly dressed and heavily-built.

Easton is a criminal while the other one is a Marshall. Easton is suave in manners and is quick to cover up his crime and save his face in front of Fairchild. The other man, on the other hand, takes up the crime on himself to save the lady from embarrassment and shock. One can say, that Easton is a wolf in sheep's coat, whereas the real Marshall is gentle and caring, beneath the rough exterior.
The 'heart' part of the title is dedicated to the Marshall because of the kindness he showed. The 'hard' part is about Mr Easton, the hand that counterfeits money; the hand that is handcuffed and is on his way to prison.

(c) 'Appearances are deceptive', goes the saying. How is it applicable in the story?


The story, 'Hearts and Hands' has two main male characters. The men enter the train handcuffed to each other. One is a young-looking man, well-dressed like a gentleman. He has a bold, frank countenance and manner. The other man is described as "ruffled, glum-faced, heavily built and roughly dressed". At one glance, one would take the handsome man as the Marshall and the other one as a criminal.

When the real Marshall takes the blame on himself and says that he is on his way to Leavenworth prison for counterfeiting, Miss Fairchild believes it completely, as she cannot connect the man she is acquainted with as a criminal; but she can equate the other one as a criminal due to his rough exterior and abrupt behaviour and manner of talking.

That a criminal is lurking inside the elegant attire and suave manners of Mr Easton, is unbelievable. That a heart of gold is hidden inside the rugged, unpolished exterior of the shrewd-eyed Marshall is also unbelievable. The gentleman turns out to be a criminal and the uncultured, unpolished ruffian turns out to be a police officer. One cannot definitely go by appearance.

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