Homework Help

How is O'Henry's life reflected in the story "A Retrieved Reformation"?

user profile pic

johnles | Student, Grade 10 | eNoter

Posted May 5, 2012 at 8:56 AM via web

dislike 1 like

How is O'Henry's life reflected in the story "A Retrieved Reformation"?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 5, 2013 at 12:47 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

A pattern of  O. Henry’s stories is that there is an order in the world, some poetic justice that follows a plan. His life seems a living example of the order that is restored with the plan of poetic justice. For, O. Henry, like Jimmy Valentine has a dark past; having been suspected of embezzlement, O. Henry fled the United States after posting bond, but, like Jimmy, O. Henry sacrificed his own safety, returning to the States because of love: his wife was gravely ill. He was tried, found quilty, and sentenced to five years in a federal prison in Ohio.  After serving his sentence, O. Henry moved to New York City where he went to work for the Sunday World. There, his charming stories with ironic twists won him fame, providing him with a certain poetic justice.

In "A Retrieved Reformation," Jimmy Valentine turns from a life of crime because of the deep love of a woman. Ben Price, who has followed his career as a safe-cracker waits in a bank to apprehend Jimmy, but when he observes Jimmy's act of self-sacrifice for the love of his fiancee, Price is so moved that he allows Jimmy, who uses the alias of Ralph Spencer, to go free, telling him,

"Don't believe I recognize you. Your buggy's waiting for you, ain't it?" 

In both Jimmy Valentine's life and that of O. Henry, there is a poetic justice administered in the end because of the change of heart of the two men effected by the women whom they love so dearly.

 

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes