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How is the idea that "twenty year is a long time...it take sometimes changes a good man...

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happymoon12 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 1, 2012 at 9:10 PM via web

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How is the idea that "twenty year is a long time...it take sometimes changes a good man into bad one" presented in "After Twenty Years?"

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 1, 2012 at 9:34 PM (Answer #1)

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People change.  Twenty years is indeed a long time.  It is long enough for one man to become a cop, while another becomes a criminal.  Bob and Jimmy were old friends who took very different paths in life, but they both kept the date to return to the spot twenty years later.   At first, Bob is not suspicious.  He thinks that Jimmy is the man he is talking to.

Jimmy is a very devoted cop.  Integrity is important to him. 

Trying doors as he went, twirling his club with many intricate and artful movements, turning now and then to cast his watchful eye adown the pacific thoroughfare, the officer … made a fine picture of a guardian of the peace.

He keeps his appointment, but recognizes his old friend—from wanted posters.  He says nothing to him about who he is, and moves on.  Then he finds a cop down the street and asks him to impersonate him.

Bob comments that twenty years is not long enough to change someone’s physical appearance.  The cop he is talking to is not his old friend Jimmy after all.

"It sometimes changes a good man into a bad one, said the tall man. "You've been under arrest for ten minutes, 'Silky' Bob….”

Jimmy did not have the heart to turn his friend in.  He had to get someone to do it for him.  Twenty years is long enough to turn a good man into a bad one, but not long enough to turn a bad one into a good one.

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