Gabriel quits his horn


New Member
I have a problem with the understanding of the following sentence. The narrator is describing a very quiet town. Solitas, and then he mentions the Day of the Final Judgement: "When Gabriel quits blowing his horn, and the car starts, with Philadelphia swinging to the last strap, and Pine Gully, Arkansas, hanging onto the rear step, this town of Solitas will wake up and ask if anybody spoke" (Cabbages and Kings, O. Henry)
I don't quite understand the reference to the car, Philadelphia et al.
  • ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    O. Henry imagines Gabriel (archangel and messenger of God) announcing the departure of the 'car' which will take people away on the day of judgement, by blowing his horn. (This isn't actually mentioned in the Bible but >
    In English-speaking culture, the image of Gabriel as the angel that shall blow the trumpet blast that initiates the end of time and the general resurrection at the Last Judgment, which has no source in the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament [source])
    The 'car' isn't a modern day automobile but a trolley car. The people of Philadelphia are inside, and are 'strap-hanging', i.e. hanging on to the straps which hang from the ceiling, hence the swinging to the last strap. The people of Pine Gully are hanging on to the rear step of the trolley (presumably they were late and only just managed to get on the trolley in time before it left). The people of Solitas, alas, miss it altogether.
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