How is winter a symbol in "The Cop and the Anthem" by O Henry? How does this theme relate to the first paragraph:  "You may know that winter is near at hand"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In O Henry's short story, "The Cop and the Anthem," winter symbolizes change. Based upon Soapy's newly revived sense of self near the end of the story, we can see where he is ready for change to occur in his life. Literally, winter is symbolic of change as fall begins to disappear with clear signs that cold weather approaching, as when women snuggle up close to their husbands for warmth:

...when women without sealskin coats grow kind to their husbands...

At the story's beginning, Soapy is much like the geese that are flying to warmer climes, as well as squirrels and bears, who prepare to do what is necessary to survive. Soapy knows he will be fine: he only needs to get put in jail. The irony in this story, however, is Soapy's inability to get arrested. He is willing to give up his...

(The entire section contains 431 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team