After Twenty Years

by O. Henry
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Compare and contrast the characters Bob and Jimmy in "After Twenty Years" by O. Henry.

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O. Henry is not known for his subtle delineation of character. Both Jimmy and Bob, if not entirely flat, are uncomplicated characters whose psyches are explored very little. On the other hand, they are dynamic characters to the extent that, after twenty years, each has changed so much that they...

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O. Henry is not known for his subtle delineation of character. Both Jimmy and Bob, if not entirely flat, are uncomplicated characters whose psyches are explored very little. On the other hand, they are dynamic characters to the extent that, after twenty years, each has changed so much that they are both difficult to recognize.

Bob is a career criminal and a conventionally bad man, though we do not know the nature of his crimes. They must, however, have been fairly serious to make him the subject of a nationwide search. Despite his villainy, he evidently has a vein of sentiment, since he decides to keep an appointment with an old friend, running what is obviously a serious risk.

Jimmy has the same sentimentality, though it does not run very deep. He feels enough affection for Bob not to want to arrest the man himself but not enough to let him escape. He obviously has more conventional probity than Bob, since he has not only kept himself honest but actually become a guardian of the law, a vocation he clearly takes seriously. He is also more observant than Bob, since he recognizes him after all this time. Bob not only fails to recognize Jimmy but is initially taken in by his impersonator.

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