Wha type of irony is found in the story "After Twenty Years"?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

O. Henry's story "After Twenty Years" is an example of situational irony. The main ironic twist occurs at the very end. 'Silky' Bob realizes that he has traveled a thousand miles to meet his old friend Jimmy Wells, and in the meantime Jimmy Wells has become a policeman who recognizes Bob as the man wanted by the Chicago police and has him arrested. Irony is usually like a joke that would be funny if it were not painful or even tragic. In situational irony the actual event turns out to be different from what was expected. Bob expected a pleasant meeting with an old pal and ended up being taken off to jail. The reader is just as surprised by this turn of events as 'Silky' Bob. Perhaps Bob should have gotten an intuitive warning when he found that the restaurant where he and Jimmy had agreed to meet after twenty years had been torn down five years ago. This in itself is situational irony. 'Big Joe' Brady's restaurant has been turned into a hardware store. Everything changes. But the main twist of situational irony is reserved for last, when Bob realizes that the man who has him by the arm is not Jimmy Wells and that he had been speaking to Jimmy Wells without knowing it.