Hearts and Hands

The story ‘Hearts and Hands’ is about three characters who travel on a train together.
The situation becomes awkward as the two men are handcuffed to each other, while the woman talks to them. While one is a marshal, and the other is a criminal, the readers get to know the reality at the end.

The story begins with a young and pretty woman sitting in one of the coaches in a train, and two young men come and take the seat facing her. The younger man is hesitant in front of Miss Fairchild, while the glum-faced man seems confident. However, the latter introduces the younger man (Mr. Easton) as the marshal. The conversation keeps flowing normally, with a mention of the handcuffs off and on.
Throughout the story, the glum-faced man keeps assuring the lady that she need not worry about the handcuffs. Later, it is he who asks Easton to take him to the smoker.
Easton is handcuffed to the glum-faced man on his right side. This clearly indicates that he, in fact, is the criminal being taken to the Leavenworth prison.
O. Henry lets the readers believe that it is a kind of fairy tale where the lady is pretty, the marshal is young and handsome, and the criminal is glum-faced. He leaves it to the imagination of the reader to envisage what will happen when the truth finally dawns on her.
Easton gives both the readers and Miss Fairchild a hint in the story when he says that his butterfly days are over. But the irony and surprise lie in the whole narrative being overturned at the end. Thus O. Henry gives a moral that we should never judge a book by its cover. Looks can be deceptive, and sometimes people do things out of generosity and goodness.

 

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  • Q1

    Discuss the inherent irony in the story ‘Hearts and Hands’.

    Marks:16
    Answer:

    The story begins with a young and pretty woman sitting in one of the coaches in a train, and two young men come and take the seat facing her. The younger man is hesitant in front of Miss Fairchild, while the glum-faced man seems confident. However, the latter introduces the younger man (Mr. Easton) as the marshal. The conversation keeps flowing normally, with a mention of the handcuffs off and on.

    Miss Fairchild tells her audience how she romanticizes the West. She does not even take care of her father when he’s sick; instead she stays in Denver. She is too full of herself, and is not a responsible person.

    Throughout the story, the glum-faced man keeps assuring the lady that she need not worry about the handcuffs. Later, it is he who asks Easton to take him to the smoker.

    By the end, it is through the conversation between the passengers that the readers come to know what has actually happened.

    Easton is handcuffed to the glum-faced man on his right side. This clearly indicates that he, in fact, is the criminal being taken to the Leavenworth prison. The glum-faced man is the marshal. The passenger comments that no officer ever handcuffs a criminal to his right hand. The real marshal deliberately asks Easton to take him to the smoker, so that the latter does not get embarrassed before Miss Fairchild, if she gets to know of his identity.

    Miss Fairchild clearly misses out this minute detail, since she easily believes that the young and handsome out of the two men, has to be the marshal; the glum-faced man cannotbe the one. O. Henry lets the readers believe that it is a kind of fairy tale where the lady is pretty, the marshal is young and handsome, and the criminal is glum-faced. He leaves it to the imagination of the reader to envisage what will happen when the truth finally dawns on her.

    Easton gives both the readers and Miss Fairchild a hint in the story when he says that his butterfly days are over. Obviously, the reference is to the fact that he will be in the Leavenworth prison thereafter, but both the readers and the lady think that the reference is towards his life as a marshal wherein he has to work hard to catch criminals.

    But the irony and surprise lie in the whole narrative being overturned at the end. Thus O. Henry gives a moral that we should never judge a book by its cover. Looks can be deceptive, and sometimes people do things out of generosity and goodness.

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  • Q2

    Read the extract below and answer the questions that follow-

    The two passengers in a seat nearby had heard most of the conversation. Said one of them: “That marshal’s a good sort of chap. Some of these Western fellows are all right.”

    “Pretty young to hold an office like that, isn’t he?” asked the other.

    “Young!” exclaimed the first speaker, “why—Oh! Didn’t you catch on? Say--did you ever know an officer to handcuff a prisoner to his right hand?”

    a. Do you think Miss Fairchild will ever come to know Mr. Easton’s reality?(3x1=3)

    b. Explain the conversation between the two passengers. (3x1=3)

    c. Why did the Glum-faced man act in front of Miss Fairchild?(3x1=3)

    d. Describe some of the characteristics of the glum-faced man.(3x1=3)

    e. What role do the remarks of the passengers play in the story?(4x1=4)

    Marks:16
    Answer:

    a. Possibly, Miss Fairchild may come to know Mr. Easton’s secret. But the chances of this happening is faint. If at all she’s able to know that he is a criminal, and not a marshal, that would be through coincidence.

    b. The passengers discussed amongst themselves as to what actually happened. The first passenger commented that Easton was quite young to hold a position of a marshal. The second passenger threw light on this remark saying that it was not Easton who was the marshal, but the glum-faced man. It was so because no marshal ever handcuffs a criminal to his right hand.

    c. The glum-faced man pretended to be the convict so that Easton did not suffer any embarrassment in front of the lady. Since, she was an acquaintance, it would have caused his reputation to be tarnished in the whole social circle, and in front of the lady herself.

    d. The glum-faced man is the real marshal. He is selfless, compassionate, and witty. He immediately senses the situation and acts accordingly, showcasing the true characteristics of a marshal. He is kind-hearted and helps Easton without wanting anything in return.

    e. The passengers’ remarks play a significant role in the story. Till they discuss what happened, the readers consider the story to be a regular one, where the lady is pretty, the marshal is handsome, and the criminal is not good looking. However, the whole story is overturned when we get to know that the real marshal is the glum-faced man.

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  • Q3

    Read the extract below and answer the questions that follow-

    “Say, Mr. Marshal,” growled the glum-faced man. “This isn’t quite fair. I’m needing a drink, and haven’t had a smoke all day. Haven’t you talked long enough? Take me in the smoker now, won’t you? I’m half dead for a pipe.”

    The bound travellers rose to their feet, Easton with the same slow smile on his face.

    “I can’t deny a petition for tobacco,” he said, lightly. “It’s the one friend of the unfortunate. Good-bye, Miss Fairchild. Duty calls, you know. He held out his hand for farewell.

    a. Explain why the glum-faced man pretended to be the marshal. How does he make an excuse to leave the train? (3x1=3)

    b. What was Easton smiling for?(3x1=3)

    c. Explain the line —“I can’t deny a petition for tobacco,[i]t’s the one friend of the unfortunate.”

    (3x1=3)

    d. Give a brief character sketch of Mr. Easton.

    (3x1=3)

    e. What is the theme of the story?(4x1=4)

    Marks:16
    Answer:

    a. The glum-faced man pretended to be the marshal so that Easton did not suffer embarrassment, in front of his acquaintance, Miss Fairchild. When both he and Easton were supposed to get out of the train, he made an excuse that he needed to have a smoke, and asked Easton to take him to the smoker.

    b. Easton smiled because he was able to avoid facing any embarrassment, in front of Miss Fairchild. The glum-faced man had helped him come clear out of the difficult situation.

    c. The line means that people who are unfortunate, they hardly get anything which can keep them happy. It is tobacco that provides them with some amount of happiness and relaxation. Hence, Easton tells Miss Fairchild that he has to accept the glum-faced man’s plea, since the latter is already unfortunate enough to get convicted.

    d. Mr. Easton is the real criminal in the story. He acts as the marshal and keeps Miss Fairchild under deception. Initially, he is embarrassed when the lady recognises him and wants to speak to him. But later on, everything smoothens out.

    e. In the story, Hearts and Hands, Hemingwaycomments that appearances are deceitful, and people like Miss Fairchild can be easily cheated upon. He also goes on to delineate the fact that sometimes people are kind, with no greed or self-interest, just like the real marshal.

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  • Q4

    Read the extract below and answer the questions that follow-

    “You’ll excuse me for speaking, miss, but I see you’re acquainted with the marshal 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.”

    a. Who is introduced as the marshal?What is your first impression of him?(3x1=3)

    b. Explain the line— “It’s seven years for counterfeiting.” (3x1=3)

    c. Why was Mr. Easton embarrassed on seeing Miss Fairchild?(3x1=3)

    d. Give a brief description of Miss Fairchild.

    (3x1=3)

    e. Who is the real marshal in the story? Why does he act like a criminal?

    (4x1=4)

    Marks:16
    Answer:

    a. Mr. Easton has been introduced as the marshal. He seems to be slightly embarrassed when Miss Fairchild speaks to him, and wishes to shake hands with him. It is because he is handcuffed to a man next to him.

    b. The line means that the glum-faced man was being taken to Leavenworth prison, and had been sentenced for seven years. His crime was that he had counterfeited something valuable, which was considered to be a fraud.

    c. Mr. Easton was embarrassed on seeing Miss Fairchild because he was handcuffed to a man next to him, and he did not want Miss Fairchild to know his reality. He was the actual convict in the story, and not the glum-faced man.

    d. Miss Fairchild was a woman of manner and style. All she cared for was herself. She did not even take care of her sick father and instead remained in Denver. She believed in looks, and felt that Easton was surely the marshal since he was handsome. The glum-faced man was sure to be the convict for her, as he was not a good looking person.

    e. The glum-faced man is the real marshal in the story. He acts as the criminal to let Easton avoid embarrassment in front of Miss Fairchild. Towards the end of the story, the readers see him in a new light. He comes across as a person who is benevolent, compassionate, and understands fellow human beings.

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