A Retrieved Reformation Questions and Answers
by O. Henry

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In "A Retrieved Reformation," what is the foreshadowing, and how is it revealed when Jimmy first meets Annabel at the bank? 

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Scott David eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Foreshadowing refers to a technique in literature that involves a writer alluding to events and plot developments which will occur later in the story.

To give an example of foreshadowing (especially one which would apply to Jimmy's encounter with Annabel), consider the conversation between Jimmy and the warden in the beginning of the story. The warden advises him to give up his safecracking and become an honest citizen, advice which alludes to plot developments later to come. At this point in the story, Jimmy doesn't take the warden seriously and returns to his criminal ways. However, upon his encounter with Annabel, he actually does give up his life of crime and embarks on a career as an honest businessman.

The earlier conversation serves to foreshadow the transformative impact that Annabel will have on Jimmy's entire life.

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mwestwood, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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O. Henry's subtle foreshadowing of Jimmy's re-involvement in safe cracking and the circumstances surrounding it occurs when he first sees Annabel Adams and asks about her. Then, the hints of Jimmy's potential arrest by Ben Price occur when the reports of recent, sophisticated safe-burglary are "high enough" to be brought to the attention of this detective whose collar-button was still in the old room of Valentine after his return from prison.

  • Foreshadowing of safe-cracking

When Jimmy Valentine first arrives in Elmore, and a young lady crosses the street, he is smitten. He asks a boy subtly who she is and he tells Jimmy "She's Annabel Adams. Her pa owns this bank."

  • Foreshadowing of Jimmy's imminent arrest

After Jimmy changes his path in life because he is madly in love with Annabel, he writes to an old friend, offering him his "kit of tools." Shortly after he writes this letter, "Ben Price jogged unobtrusively into Elmore in a livery buggy."  Detective Price is there to observe the happenings in this town after having traced Valentine to this town because of the new safe in the local bank.

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