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The Cactus

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Jacob Truxal

on 16 February 2016

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Transcript of The Cactus

By: O. Henry
Prezi by: Jacob Truxal

The Cactus
In the short story The Cactus by O. Henry, Trysdale, the main character, was interested in marrying a young woman. When he asked her, She said she needed more time to think and that she would give her answer in a day. The next day, he got a cactus from her with a tag (the name of the cactus). Trysdale couldn't interpret the tag so he assumed it meant nothing. The tag was in Spanish which the girl thought he understood because he had bragged about being fluent in Spanish though he didn't understand the language. Two days later, they met at a dinner. Trysdale didn't think she had responded to him and she was confused about his actions. Because of this misunderstanding, they grew apart from each other. When his friend came to visit him to go to the woman's (his sister's) wedding, he noticed the cactus at Trysdale's apartment. His friend told him that the name on the tag meant “Come and take me” in Spanish. Because Trysdale didn't admit to the girl that he didn't know Spanish, he missed his opportunity with her.
The theme of the story is that things aren't always what they seem. Trysdale viewed the cactus as a rejection to his marriage proposal when it really was an acceptance.

Another theme was that it is important to pay attention to details. When Trysdale received the cactus, he set it aside and didn't try to understand the tag. Had he tried to understand it, he would have known that the answer to his proposal was yes.
"There was no note, no message, merely a tag upon the plant bearing a barbarous foreign or botanical name. He waited until night, but her answer did not come."In the middle of this story, Trysdale received a cactus. The cactus had a tag on it, but Trysdale did not recognize the tag as the answer. He knew it was in another language, but he didn't do anything to understand it. He should have paid attention to the little detail on the cactus. This quote relates to the theme because the theme is to always pay attention to details. Trysdale did not pay attention to the tag on the cactus.
"'Yes. The natives imagine the leaves are reaching out and beckoning to you. They call it by this name--Ventomarme. In English, the name means 'come and take me,'" says Trysdale's friend recognized the type of cactus it was and that the tag said, in english, 'come takeme.' Trysdale then realizes that he had the girl's answer all along even though he thought she had not responded. This quote relates to the theme of this story because the theme is to pay attention to details. If Trysdale tried to figure out what the tag meant, he would have known the answer.
Figurative Language
Simile
- "White favors like stars upon their coats shone through the gloom of the apartment."
- "She had invested him with an almost supernatural number of high attributes and excellencies and talents, and he had absorbed the oblation as a desert drinks the rain that can coax from it no promise of blossom or fruit."
- "How she fluttered like a snared bird when he laid his mightiness at her feet!"

Metaphor
- "With womanly swiftness she took her cue from his manner, and turned to snow and ice."
- "Vanity and conceit? These were the joints in his armor."

Symbolism
- the cactus represents Trysdale in the future
Foreshadowing
Trysdale's pride was the source of his failed relationship and he would end up alone.

-"...as a desert drinks the rain that can coax from it no promise of blossom or fruit."
-"...he did not feel the prick of the thorn that was to pierce him later."
- "On the table stood a singular-looking green plant in a red earthen jar."
Setting
The story is set in Trysdale's bachelor apartment. The "gloomy" bachelor apartment reinforces that Trysdale is single and alone.
Irony
Trysdale could have been with the girl all along but he just didn't know spanish.
Trysdale is in his bachelor apartment standing next to a table with a cactus on it. He is thinking about what happened and why he lost the woman he asked to marry him.
Trysdale lost the woman he had asked to marry him.
The woman worshipped Trysdale and he was so prideful that he wouldn't admit what he didn't know.
When Trysdale asked her to marry him, she responded with the message "come and take me" delivered with a cactus. Because it was in Spanish, he didn't understand and thought she hadn't responded.
Because he thought she hadn't responded, Trysdale was cold to her so they ended up not talking about the marriage proposal.
The woman married someone else and Trysdale was left alone with the realization that his pride had gotten in the way of his happiness.
The tone of the story is serious and personal. The audience knows Trysdale's thoughts and feelings as he starts to understand why he lost the woman he loved. O. Henry uses the phrases "shaken rudely by the incompromising fact" and having a "last hopeless point of view" to describe Trysdale and his situation. O. Henry writes that Trysdale's "poor consolation had been wrenched from him" when he saw the woman who could have been his bride happily marrying someone else.
The woman sent a cactus to Trysdale to accept his marriage proposal but he interpreted it as a rejection.

Trysdale wanted to woman to continue to worship him so he didn't admit to not knowing Spanish which ultimately led to a failed relationship.

Trysdale realizes that by allowing his pride to get in the way, he was responsible for his own suffering.
Trysdale
- Hopeless, conceited, egotistical
- Static and flat since the audience doesn't see him change who he is in the story. After he realizes that he didn't understand the woman's message, he may change but the story ends.
- "He accepted her homage with royal grandeur." (Indirect)
- "...he had asked her to come up onhis pedestal with him and share his greatness." (Indirect)
Woman
- Modest, childlike, worshipful, sincere
- Static and flat since the audiene doesn't see her change who she is in the story
- "...the tenderness and virginal charm of her looks and words." (Indirect)
- "It had been a very sweet incense that she had burned before him; so modest, so childlike and worshipful, and so sincere." (Indirect)
Irony
Point of View
The point of view is third person limited since the narrator knows the thoughts and feelings of only Trysdale. The readers only know what the other characters are saying and doing, not what they are feeling or thinking.
Mood
The atmosphere created in the story is of defeat and a sense of despair.

O. Henry writes about Trysdale's "...last hopeless point of view..." and "...confronted by a thing he had never before faced - his own innermost, unmitigated, and unbedecked self."

Trysdale's bachelor apartment is described as "gloomy" and Trysdale's friend tells him he looks unhappy after the wedding.

While Trysdale is thinking about what happened with his relationship, he "grimly wrenched apart the seam of his last glove..." while pulling it off his hand.
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