After Twenty Years by O. Henry

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What does the title "After Twenty Years" mean?

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The story "After Twenty Years" tells the tale of two friends who have been separated for a long time. When they were younger, the two friends had to go their separate ways as Bob attempted to make a fortune for himself in the West. In their pact, they decided to meet up "after twenty years" at the hardware store as a predetermined location.

The title also belies the changes in life that take place over a long period of time. The two friends were similar in their old lives, but after some misfortune, Bob has become a notorious criminal, while Jimmy has turned into a well regarded police officer. The divergence of their lives highlights the difference that occurs in people after twenty years of life.

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The title,"After Twenty Years," is at the heart of O. Henry's narrative.  For, two old friends who separated in their youth have agreed to meet each other in front of their favorite restaurant. When the policeman asks the man standing in this doorway why he is there, he states,

"Twenty years ago to-night...I dined here at 'Big Joe' Brady's with Jimmy Wells, my best chum.... He and I were raised here in New York, just...

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