After twenty years by o henry analysis



In the beginning of the story, a cop was shown walking on the street without
minding the people around him. It was about ten o’clock in a cold night and the
wind was mixed with tiny drops of rain. While the cop was walking past the
different establishments, he saw a man standing near a darkened shop, and
walked towards him. But before the cop was able to say a word, the man told
him that he was just waiting for a friend named Jimmy Wells. He said that he and
his friend Jimmy has promised to meet at the same spot twenty years ago, that
they were really close friends but have parted ways when they were ages 18 and
20. The man told the cop about his life in the West and how successful he had
The cop was really interested about the stories of the man and asked if his
friend didn’t come on time, would he still wait for him. The man answered that he
would still wait for his friend for another half an hour. Three minutes before ten, the
cop had to leave and the man was again left waiting for his friend.
About twenty minutes he waited, and then a tall man in a long coat came
hurrying across the street. The tall man greeted him by his name who turned to be
Bob, and Bob perceived hin to be his friend Jimmy. The two exchanged
conversation about their lives in the past twenty years, a lot has definitely
changed between the two even the restaurant they used to eat together that
served as their meeting place.
But as they walk in a bright pavement, Bob notices that the man he was
talking to was not actually his friend Jimmy. The tall man then admits that he was
not truly Jimmy but a police officer. He also said that Bob was under arrest, and
gave him a letter. Bob read the letter that contained these words: “Bob, I was at
the place on time. I saw the face of the man wanted by Chicago cops. I didn’t
want to arrest you myself. So I went and got another cop and sent him to do the
job – JIMMY.”
Turns out that the first cop he talked to a while ago was actually his long
lost friend, Jimmy.

After Twenty Years by O. Henry tells the story of two friends who parted ways
twenty years ago and are supposed to meet again for the first time in front of a
shop that used be a restaurant. The two met but not in a way they least expected.
The story interestingly gave me a taste of friendship and loyalty, until betrayal
comes along.
The story began with the cop, who turns out to be the ‘real’ Jimmy. The
author hinted on the introduction that Jimmy was under deep thinking and was
aloof to the people around him. Of course, he was going to meet his friend who
he was not able to see for twenty years. But surely, there was something that
troubled him. He was in a conflict choosing between his friend and his
responsibility as a cop. He didn’t even introduce himself to Bob when he
approached him. He just let Bob talked about his life in the West. I assume that it
was Jimmy’s way of knowing what he’s friend had gone to since he decided not
introduce himself.
With those actions of Jimmy, I could feel the care, the longing and gladness
that he was able to meet his friend. But at the same time, it is somehow painful to
be placed on his situation as he needed to betray his friend. Between the two,
Jimmy is the one I could relate into. He came on the place and on time, just like
how they talked twenty years ago. He never forgot and kept his promise to his
friend. The story was more focused on Bob, but the truth, Jimmy just made the
biggest decision on the story that some readers may overlook.
On the part of Bob, we see him initially as the waiting man who waits for his
friend. As I read the story, my admiration was leaned on him, as he was eager to
fulfill his promise to his friend. I also somehow observe that he was quite arrogant
to what he had achieved on the West, and actually hoped that his friend Jimmy
would achieve even just half as to what he had. It was then revealed that he was
a fugitive, the reason why he said that he keeps moving from one place to
Despite the revelation of Bob’s character, I cannot simply judge him as like
that. I still choose to perceive him as a loyal friend. Despite of what he’d been to,
he took all his efforts to meet his friend and that’s quite a statement.
The author may have come to a somehow similar situation on his life that
inspired him to write such story about friendship. Anyone would agree that at

some parts of our lives, we have a friend that so dear to us, but due to some
complex situations, we lose them. The characters did not do anything to destroy
what they had, the situations they’ve been into was just simply inevitable.

Writing a psychoanalytic criticism is not much of a difference than writing a
reader-response analysis on a certain text. It is actually easier than a formalist
criticism, because Freud’s criticism is just like analyzing a dream in the form of a
In the After Twenty Years, I just shared my personal insights of the story,
sympathize with the characters, and think what the author had in mind while
writing the text.
What I really like about the criticism is that as you go deeper, you tend to
understand what is behind the text, and be able to relate your personal
experiences to the universal elements presented in the story.


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