Write an essay of about 200 words by
developing the following hints:
A policeman - down the street - checking doors - a man standing- stops to talk - about the childhood friends who agreed to meet - after 20 years - his friend there shows up - how each of them has changed - The criminal - arrested, and the undercover cop says -20 years - change a good man into a criminal.
Topic : After Twenty Years
Author : O. Henry
Genre : A Short Story
: Duty Vs Friendship
“After Twenty years” by O. Henry is an interesting story. The story entitled ‘After Twenty years’ is about two best friends who had to part ways. They return to keep an appointment they had made twenty years ago.
Meeting Jimmy Wells
. A 38-year old Bob is waiting at the door of a hardware store in New York to meet his friend Jimmy Wells. A policeman is on patrol duty. He asks Bob why he is standing there. Bob tells the cop that he (Bob) is waiting to meet his friend.
After twenty years
Bob says that before parting they had made a promise to meet at the same place at the same time on the same date after twenty years. Bob tells the policeman that he (Bob) has kept his promise. Bob is sure that Jimmy Wells will surely come and meet him. After listening to the story, the cop walks away.
Arrival of Police officer
Twenty minutes later, a tall man in plain clothes comes to meet Bob. Bob thinks him Jimmy Wells, but realizes that the man is not his friend. Actually, the man is a police officer in plain clothes. He gives Bob a letter from Jimmy. Bob learns from the letter that the police officer whom he had met earlier was Jimmy, his old friend. *'
Jimmy Wells identifies Bob as the most wanted criminal in New York. But he does not want to arrest his intimate friend. So he sends another police officer to do the work.
For Jimmy Wells duty is more important than friendship.
1. Answer the following questions in a sentence or two each, based on your understanding of the story.
a. Describe the appearance of the policeman on the beat.
b. What did he keep doing while on his rounds?
c. Why were the streets devoid of people?
d. What story did the man standing near the hardware store tell the passing cop?
e. What used to be there in the place of that shop twenty years ago?
f. Describe the man awaiting the arrival of his friend.
g. Why did the friends part ways?
h. When and how did Bob realise that the tall man was not his friend?
i. Who was the tall man?
j. What did he give Bob?
k. Describe the scene in the beginning of the story.
A policeman can be seen on duty in an area. He is on foot patrol. It is 10 p.m. The cold wind is blowing. The area seems deserted.
l. Was the place a business center only?
Yes, the place was a business center. The author has mentioned a cigar store and an all-night lunch counter.
m. What kind of characters does the story "After Twenty Years" have?
There are three characters in the story "After Twenty Years".
· One is Bob who is a true and sincere friend. He want to fulfill his promise at any cost.
· His friend Jimmy is dutiful and honest person. He gives preference to duty over friendship.
· The third character who comes to arrest Bob is also a police officer.
n. What is the most significant happening in the story to be analyzed?
The most significant happening in the story is when Jimmy Wells sends a police officer in plain clothes to arrest Bob.
o. What is the climax of the story “After Twenty Years”?
Bob identifies that the man he is talking to is not his friend. Actually, the man is a police officer in plain clothes. He gives Bob a letter from Jimmy. Bob learns from the letter that the police officer whom he met earlier was Jimmy, his old friend.
p. How would you describe Jimmy and Bob's personalities in the story?
Jimmy and Bob are close friends. Jimmy is an honest police officer. When he comes to know that his friend is a criminal, he does not have the courage to arrest him himself. He sends another policeman to arrest Bob. For him duty is more important than friendship. As far as Bob is concerned, he is a true friend. He want to fulfill his promise at any cost.
q. The ending of "After Twenty Years" fill the reader with poignancy, (Strong effect of feeling -sad) making the story effective. Discuss?
The reader expects that Bob and Jimmy Wells, the two close friends, would meet each other after long separation. They would share their experiences of the past twenty years. But instead, the ending of the story fills the reader with poignancy when one of the friends is arrested by police. In spite of the tragic end, the author makes the story very effective. Bob is not arrested by Jimmy Wells directly. Jimmy sends another police officer to arrest Bob.
r. How does the writer prepare for the end of the story?
The writer prepares for the end of the story contrary to the expectations of the readers. The story begins very interestingly. Two close friends Bob and Jimmy meet each other after twenty years. Bob does not recognize Jimmy in the police uniform. After Jimmy's departure, another police officer in plain clothes comes whom Bob considers to be his Jimmy. The police officer arrests Bob because he is wanted in Chicago.
a. The cop suddenly slowed his walk, when he heard the barking of dogs. False
b. The friends grew up together in the city of New York. True
c. Both Jimmy and Bob were of the same age. False
d. The friends parted one night after watching a movie together. False
e. The friends could not keep in touch because they lost each other’s phone numbers. False
f. Bob wanted to stay for half an hour more than the appointed time. True
g. Jimmy grew a little taller after he was twenty. True
h. Bob realised that the tall man was not Jimmy Wells from the shape of his nose. True
a) on the beat:
i. moving around hitting every one with a stick
ii. on duty walking around the assigned area
iii. marching with his heart beating fast
b) guardian of peace:
i. a watchman
ii. a holy man
iii. a policeman
c) arm in arm:
i) with arms linked together
ii)with weapons in hands
iii)with handcuffs on wrists
d) plainclothes man:
i. a man who wears simple clothes for grand occasions
ii. a policeman in civilian clothes while on duty
iii. a cine artist in ordinary costumes
a. What did Bob share with the cop about their friendship?
Bob shared with the policeman his strange appointment made twenty years ago. He also shared the details of their childhood days and how they were raised in New York.
b. What are the strengths and weaknesses of Jimmy Wells from Bob’s point of view?
Strengths: Jimmy Wells is very shrewd. He has sharp memory. He can recognize his friend as soon as he sees his face in the cigar light. He is duty bound.
Weakness: He is very cordial and soft natured person. Though his friend is a criminal wanted in Chicago, he could not arrest him. Hence he sent another cop to do the duty.
c. Was Bob hopeful of his friend’s arrival? How do you know?
Yes, Bob was hopeful of his friend’s arrival. The lines “I’ll give him half an hour at least. If Jimmy is alive on earth he’ll be here by that time” reveal his hopefulness of his friend’s arrival.
d. How did the cop come to understand that Bob had been successful in the West?
Bob pulled out a handsome watch having the lid set with small diamonds. Then the patrolman came to know that Bob had been doing well.
e. Bob’s life in the West was not a bed of roses. Give reasons.
Bob had to compete with some of the intelligent people going to get his pile. He has to manage with the police for the crimes he had committed. He lived with stress and fear that he might be arrested at anytime by the police of West.
f. Why didn’t Jimmy Wells, being a cop himself, arrest Bob?
Jimmy Wells is very cordial with everyone, especially with Bob. He has no willingness and guts to arrest his most intimate friend. Hence he could not arrest Bob.
g. Who do you think has been more successful between the two? Give reasons.
I think Patrolman Wells has been successful between the two. He has done his duty. He knows his responsibilities. Being a sincere friend he is not able to arrest his most intimate friend. He sent another cop in plain clothes to do the work.
a. Compare and contrast the character of Jimmy Wells and Bob with suitable references from the story to support your view.
Topic: After Twenty Years
Author: O. Henry
Genre: Short Story
Theme: Duty Vs Friendship
“After Twenty years” by O. Henry is an interesting story with a twist at the end. A 38-year old Bob is waiting at the door of a hardware store in New York to meet his friend Jimmy wells. A policeman is on patrol duty. He asks Bob why he is standing there. Bob tells the cop that he (Bob) is waiting to meet his friend Jimmy Wells. He says that they make a promise to meet at the same place at the same time on the same date after twenty years, before parting. Bob tells the policeman that he (Bob) has kept his promise. Bob is sure that Jimmy Wells will surely come and meet him. After listening to the story, the cop walks away. Twenty minutes later, a tall man in plain clothes comes to meet Bob. Bob thinks him Jimmy Wells. Later Bob identifies that the man he is talking to is not his friend. Actually, the man is a police officer in plain clothes. He gives Bob a letter from Jimmy. Bob learns from the letter that the police officer whom he met earlier was Jimmy, his old friend. Since Bob is a criminal wanted by the Police, Jimmy Wells does not want to arrest his intimate friend. So he has sent another police officer to do the work.
Here Bob is a criminal. But he is a true friend. He wants to fulfill his promise at any cost. On the other hand, his friend Jimmy Wells is an honest police officer. When he comes to know that his friend is a criminal, he does not want to arrest him himself. He has sent another policeman to arrest Bob. For him duty is more important than friendship.
b. ‘Means should justify the end.’ Explain this adage with reference to O. Henry’s story.
“Means should justify the end” is a well-known proverb. means = method, end=aim. Your aim should be noble, and at the same time the method should also be honest. The aim of a short story is to give aesthetic pleasure to the readers. There should be just two or three characters and the narrative should be brief. Now in the short story “After Twenty years” O. Henry employs only three characters. Two friends agree to meet after 20 years. When they meet one of them is a criminal and the other is a police officer. The police officer is duty-conscious and sends another police officer to arrest his friend. Thus the story has a surprise ending; it gives pleasure to the reader. So the shore story justifies the statement.
“Means should justify the end”
c. ‘Tell me who your friends are and I shall tell you who you are’. How will you explain this statement in the light of Jimmy’s and Bob’s friendship?
“Tell me who your friends are, and I shall you who you are”---is common statement. If somebody has bad friends then he (she) is a bad person. If somebody has good friends, he is a good person. But this statement and may twisted. sometimes
A non-vegetarian and a vegetarian may be good friends!!
The short story “After Twenty Years” disproves the proverbial statement of the friends, one is a criminal and the other is a police officer. But the title is meaningful ----“After Twenty Years” They were good friends twenty years ago. But time has changed their characters.
d. To your shock, you find out that your close friend is indulging in some wrong activity. Will you avoid him/her or try to correct him/her? Give reasons for your answer.
If I find my close friend indulges in some wrong activity, I shall definitely correct him. It is my moral duty. I am bound to do. If any harm is done we should not ignore it. When my close friend does any wrong activity I can’t bear it. For instance let us take my friend smokes and consumes liquor. First of all I don’t advise him. For advise is a hatred form to any one, I shall give him live examples from the people who are affected worst. I should make him understand that other people are also affected by his act. It is my duty. Thus I will try to wear him of the bad habit.
e. What would you do in this situation, if you were Jimmy Wells? Substantiate your reason.
If I were Jimmy Wells I would not send plain clothes cop to arrest Bob. Instead I would arrest him on the spot as soon as I knew that he was the criminal wanted in Chicago. My policy is duty first and friendship next. I stick to my principle even if I face any hurdles. I shall try to be sincere till the dooms day. For, while I go away and try to find another police officer, Bob may become tired of waiting and he may go away. Therefore as soon as Bob lights up his cigar and I identify him as a notorious criminal in New York. I would arrest him before he could have any chance of escaping.
f. What is the moral of the story?
The short story “After Twenty years” portrays two different characters. Bob is a criminal; he has earned a lot of money. But he has no home, no peace of mind. He is always by the fear that he may be arrested by the police any time. On the other hand, his friend Jimmy Wells is a police officer. He is honest, simple and duty-conscious. Though the two men were friends in their boyhood, now Jimmy Wells sends another police officer and gets Bob arrested.
The moral of the story: Duty is more important than friendship.
g. Who is Jimmy Wells? (OR) Sketch the character of Jimmy Wells.
Jimmy wells is a police officer in New York. On a dull cold evening he is doing his duty. He walks with a straight looking face and steady steps. As he nears the door of a hardware store, he meets a man. That man is Bob who tells Jimmy Wells about the promise of meeting here made between himself and his friend twenty years ago. Now Jimmy Wells is the friend. When Bob lights up his cigar, Jimmy realizes that Bob is notorious criminal and he is wanted by the police. Jimmy could have arrested Bob on the spot. But Jimmy recalls their early friendship and therefore sends another police officer to arrest Bob.
Thus Jimmy Wells is duty-conscious. He places duty above friendship.