“A Newspaper Story” Summary by O Henry

“A Newspaper Story” is a short story by O. Henry from his 1910 collection Whirligigs. It’s about the power of the press in a very literal way. The narrative follows the travels of a daily newspaper, showing us all the people it affects. Here’s a summary of “A Newspaper Story”.

“A Newspaper Story” Summary

The newspapers are fresh off the presses and on Giuseppi’s newsstand at 8 AM. He stands on the opposite corner, giving his customers space.

The paper has stories discouraging corporal punishment for children, warning a labor leader to avoid a strike, and on giving the police the resources they need to protect the public. There’s also an advice column that tells a young man how to win his lady love, a beauty tips page and a personal ad asking Jack for forgiveness and to meet at 8:30 this morning.

A haggard young man picks up a paper at the stand. He has to stop for a shave and a coffee before getting to the office at 9. After the shave, he walks with the paper and his gloves in his pocket. They fall out, and he backtracks until he finds them at 8:30. A woman takes his hands and says she knew he’d come. Jack doesn’t know what she means, but he’s overjoyed to see her again.

A Newspaper Story O Henry summary
“A Newspaper Story” Summary by O Henry

A gust of wind carries the newspaper down a side street where it covers the face of a horse that pulls the young man who wanted to win over his lady love. The horse takes off running, crashing into a water-hydrant and throwing the young man onto the street in front of a brownstone mansion. He’s taken in by the residents, and nursed back to health by his lady love, who proclaims her devotion to him.

The paper is again carried by the wind until it’s picked up by Policeman O’Brine in front of a café. He straightens it out and sees the headline about the police. The bartender at the café gives O’Brine a drink which fortifies him for his duties. He tucks the paper under the arm of a small boy, Johnny, who’s passing by.

Johnny takes the paper home where his sister, Gladys, who wrote in for beauty advice, pins two leaves from it under her skirt. Outside, she meets up with the girl who lives below. She recognizes the rustling sound of expensive silk from the skirt and is jealous. Gladys is pleased as she goes on her way, and her smile and rosy color make her beautiful.

Back home, Gladys and Johnny’s father, the labor leader, gets distracted by a puzzle in the paper, working on it for hours. He misses the strike vote and it’s averted. Future editions of the paper take credit for their persuasive argument.

Later, when Johnny returns from school, he removes the remainder of the paper from under his clothes where strappings are usually applied. The editorial against corporeal punishment had its affect.

“After this can anyone doubt the power of the press?”

(End of “A Newspaper Story” summary)

I hope this summary of “A Newspaper Story” by O. Henry was helpful.