The Caliph, Cupid, and the Clock by O’ Henry

Introduction

The present story, titled ‘The Caliph, Cupid, and the Clock,’ was written by O’Henry, a well-known short story writer. William Sidney Porter’s pen name is O’Henry. He is one of the world’s most celebrated and widely read short story writers. He was born on September 11, 1862 and died on June 5, 1910. He’s written around 400 stories. He had honed his short storey writing style. Some of his stories have surprising or interesting endings.

Summary of the Story

The story begins on a September evening in early autumn. The moon was just beginning to rise. Prince Michael, Electorate Valleluna’s prince, was seated on his favourite park bench. Prince Michael was not dressed princely. He was dressed impeccably. His shoes were irreparably damaged. His bear had matured. His hat had been smashed. He bore no resemblance to a prince. He was wealthy enough to partake in all of life’s pleasures. He earned a master’s degree in philosophy and a bachelor’s degree in art. He was well aware of the futility of all of these endeavours. He took greater pleasure in alleviating distress and assisting the poor. He favoured the deserving. He adored assisting those in need. He sat on a bench in the park, watching and smiling at how time—the clock in the tower—controls people. Their every action is governed by the passage of time.

Just then, a young man dressed in evening attire entered. He sat on the prince’s third bench. The man appeared to be restless. He smoked nervously for a half hour. He was constantly observing the tower’s clock. The prince recognised that his anxiety was caused by the ticking of the clock or the passage of time. The prince rose from his bench and walked over to the young man’s bench. He addressed the young man as Prince. The prince counselled him against becoming a slave to the clock. He assured the young man that he would assist him in overcoming his difficulties. The time was eight minutes past fifty, and the young man was growing more disappointed. Finally, the young man revealed to the prince the source of his melancholy.

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The young man was in love with Marian, a young girl. He was a mischievous child who had been up to no good, as the girl discovered. He pleaded with her for forgiveness. She requested some time to reflect. She informed him that if she forgave his actions, she would hang a white silk scarf in the window at 8:00 p.m. as a sign of her forgiveness. Twenty-three minutes had passed, and there was no longer any hope. He also mentioned Marian’s punctuality. The prince requested that he wait until nine a.m. The young man reluctantly agreed. Three minutes remained until nine, and the prince desired to stretch his body for a few moments. Finally, the clock struck nine a.m. For the final time, the young man looked out the window. To his surprise, the white silk scarf was hanging in his beloved’s second window. The young man began to joyfully scream and dance. He inquired about the time with one of the individuals. The gentleman informed me that it is half-past eight o’clock. The young man could hardly believe it was the first time in his life that the clock was off by half an hour. Thus, Prince Michael averted disappointment and nervousness for the young man. Caliph and the Clock aided the young man in obtaining the blessings of Cupid, the Roman God of love. However, the prince, who was exhausted and stretched on the bench, was discovered dead the following morning by police.

As a result, the storey comes to an unexpected conclusion. It surprises the young man, and readers anticipate a happy ending. However, the prince’s death brings the story to an unexpected and pitiful conclusion for the readers. As stated previously, it is a distinguishing feature of O’Henry’s short stories. He never disappoints his readers, and this story is no exception.

Analysis & Theme

The prince of the Electorate Valleluna, Prince Michael, was sitting on a bench in the park. His appearance will not encourage someone to think of majesty, aristocracy. When the story begins, it was a late September evening in early autumn. The moon had just begun to rise. The park benches were deserted. The children were having a good time in the garden. Prince Michael was not dressed in his royal robes. He was imprudently attired. His shoes were completely destroyed. His bear was an adult. His hat had taken a beating. He did not resemble a prince in any way. He was wealthy enough to enjoy all of life’s pleasures. However, he had purposefully abstained from all pleasures, wealth, and power. He held a master’s degree in philosophy and a bachelor’s degree in art. He was well aware of the futility of these endeavours. He took greater pleasure in alleviating distress and assisting the needy. He favoured the righteous. He adored assisting those in distress. He showered these people with gifts and genuine royal rewards. Now he sat on a bench in the park, watching and smiling at how people are manipulated by time—the clock in the tower. Their every action is dictated by the passage of time.

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Just then, a young man dressed in evening attire approached. He took a seat on the prince’s third bench. The gentleman appeared to be restless. He nervously smoked for a half hour. He was constantly monitoring the tower’s clock. The prince realised that his anxiety was caused by the ticking of the clock or the passage of time. The prince rose from his bench and approached the young man’s bench. To the young man, he introduced himself as Prince. He continued by stating that he is a disguised individual who enjoys assisting the less fortunate. He inquired as to the young man’s predicament. The young man appeared hesitant to tell the prince anything, but he kept an eye on the clock. The prince cautioned him against becoming a slave to the clock. He reassured the young man that he would assist him in overcoming the adversity. The time was eight minutes past fifty, and the young man was becoming increasingly disappointed. Finally, the young man disclosed to the prince the source of his melancholy.

The story is about an incident in Prince Michel’s life who is one of the heroes of this short story. The plot revolves around three central characters: Caliph, Cupid, and the Clock. Caliph is the title given to the supreme civil or religious ruler. Cupid is the Roman deity associated with love. The clock in the storey is a representation of the tower’s clock. The three—the Caliph, Cupid, and the Clock—bring happiness to the young man’s life. The story concludes in an unexpected manner.

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The young man was head over heels in love with a young girl named Marian. He was with the girl at six p.m. He was a naughty boy who had been up to no good, as the girl discovered. He pleaded for her forgiveness. She requested some time to consider. She informed him that if she forgave his actions, she would hang a white silk scarf in the window at 8:00 p.m. to signify her forgiveness. It will maintain their previous relationship. If this does not happen, he should refrain from attempting to meet her again and consider ending their relationship. That was why he was watching the clock with such zeal. 23 minutes had passed, and there was no hope left. He also mentioned Marian’s punctuality with regard to time. According to the prince, “women are natural adversaries of clocks. Clocks are a curse, women are a gift…”

The young man was about to depart when the prince caught his sleeve and asked him to stay until nine o’clock. He reassured him further that he would receive his signal. Additionally, the prince would give them 100,000 dollars and a palace on the Hudson as a wedding gift on the day of the wedding. The only stipulation was that no watches be worn, as they stifle our pleasures. The young man agreed cheerfully. The prince desired to stretch his body for a few moments as the three minutes passed to nine. Finally, nine o’clock struck. For the final time, the young man examined the window. To his surprise, the white silk scarf was hung in his beloved’s second window. The young man began to joyously scream and dance. He inquired about the time with one of the individuals. The gentleman informed me that it was half-past eight o’clock. The young man could hardly believe that the clock had accelerated by half an hour for the first time. Thus, Prince Michael averted disappointment and nervousness from the young man. However, the prince, who was exhausted and stretched on the bench, was discovered dead by police the next morning.

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