Rudolph Steiner is the main character of the story “The Green Door” by O’Henry.
Rudolph Steiner belongs to the middle class of American society of the beginning of the 20th century. He is a piano salesman, a commonplace citizen on the one hand, but on the other hand he is (as the author characterizes him) “a true adventurer; few were the evenings on which he didn’t go forth from his hall bedchamber in search of the unexpected”. No matter where he goes, he tries to find an adventure in every thing possible. His adventurous spirit has already led him “into strange paths” several times, but he still retains it.
This time, having received a card with the inscription “Green Door” from a dispenser in the street, he undertakes another evening journey.
Rudolph Steiner is a commonplace American and not an American at the same time. He lives here but he is quite different from the capitalist majority. O’Henry characterizes Rudolph indirectly through his speech: ”This is ridiculous to go without eating<…>I’m coming back tomorrow to see how you are getting along – you can’t get rid of me so easily”.
This difference was (in those days) and is vitally important nowadays, Rudolph is deeply humane, despite the unspoken law of the society (as consequences of the so-called “social darvinism” – the fittest survive); he treats poor people the same way as all others and the financial state of a person he deals with is of no difference for him.
We can draw this conclusion from his conduct towards the girl: he understands not only her helplessness, but spends his (probably all his) money to support her , to take her out of trouble, showing his philanthropic nature.
Rudolph is awarded: the girl turns out not to be of the kind he thought before. He says: “All the same, I believe it was the hand of Fate that doped out the way for me to find her”.
Rudolph Steiner is a character to draw people people’s attention to an acute problem of the society, to the disparaging treatment of the poor.
The general outline of the story makes some critics think that it’s just for entertainment, like many others available on sale”, but it’s a one to make us think thanks to the character of Rudolph Steiner, a favourable exception among the majority.