In "After Twenty Years," when the narrator observes that the officer "made a fine picture of a guardian of the peace," what does the phrase "guardian of the peace" mean, and how does...

In "After Twenty Years," when the narrator observes that the officer "made a fine picture of a guardian of the peace," what does the phrase "guardian of the peace" mean, and how does the officer suit this role?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the exposition of "After Twenty Years," Jimmy Wells is described as a fine "guardian of the peace" because he fits the role of what is known as the "beat cop." That is, he appears strong and hard-working, trustworthy, confidant, and knowledgeable in his role as patrolman of his neighborhood.

Officer Wells also suits his role as "guardian of the peace" when he obeys his Law Enforcement Oath of Honor which affirms his bravery and honor to the community and law, as well as his integrity as an officer. Indeed, it is because of his sworn oath that Jimmy Wells must report his identification of 'Silky' Bob to headquarters. While he fulfills his commitment to the community that he serves, Officer Wells also demonstrates his personal integrity as well as his professionalism. For, rather than humiliate his old friend, Officer Wells has a plain clothes policeman make the arrest. Further, Jimmy writes Bob a letter of explanation for his conduct.