A Retrieved Reformation

by O. Henry
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What are Jimmy’s favorite things in “A Retrieved Reformation”?

Jimmy’s favorite things include nice clothes, good food, and his safe-cracking tools. As the story develops, he falls in love with Annabel and develops new priorities.

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In O. Henry ’s story, Jimmy is presented as a young man who undergoes a major transformation, largely because he falls in love. Early in the story, Jimmy is described as very fond of nice clothes and as being stylish, as well as enjoying good food and cigars. He is...

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In O. Henry’s story, Jimmy is presented as a young man who undergoes a major transformation, largely because he falls in love. Early in the story, Jimmy is described as very fond of nice clothes and as being stylish, as well as enjoying good food and cigars. He is also proud of the tools of his trade, which is safe-cracking, in part because he invented some of them. Through the course of the story, although he retains his fondness for style and quality, his priorities shift toward helping other people.

When Jimmy is released from prison, the story’s narrator mentions that he is wearing “villainously fitting, ready-made clothes” that have been provided by the state. To celebrate his freedom, Jimmy enjoys “the first sweet joys of liberty” by going to a restaurant and eating a well-prepared meal. In addition, he drinks a glass of wine and smokes a quality cigar.

Jimmy’s taste for fine clothes is mentioned after he returns to his old room. He emerges wearing “tasteful and well-fitting clothes.” Later, Ben Price refers to him as “Dandy Jim Valentine,” and a young woman he speaks to in Elmore takes note of his “style and looks.”

While in his old room, Jimmy had retrieved his burglar’s tools. When he opens the suitcase containing them, he “gaze[s] fondly” at the fine tools, which he had had custom-made. Furthermore, he had invented some unique items and took special pride in those.

After Jimmy falls in love with Annabel, his priorities change. Although still stylish, he places the well-being of others above his own vanity.

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