What does the high price of Jimmy's tools tell you about his life of crime in "A Retrieved Reformation?"  

Expert Answers

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

The cost of Jimmy’s tools means that he was a good safecracker.

Jimmy has over nine hundred dollars’ worth of safe-cracking tools.  The fact that he has this many expensive tools shows that he was very successful in his career as a safecracker.  He cracked enough safes and got enough money that he was able to pay for these expensive tools.

No finer tools could be found any place. They were complete; everything needed was here. They had been made of a special material, in the necessary sizes and shapes. Jimmy had planned them himself, and he was very proud of them.

The mere possession of these tools makes the police officer Ben Price suspicious.  He feels that Jimmy could easily slip back into the life, because he “has the tools to do it.”  Safecracking is a highly specialized skill, and Jimmy’s talents are in high demand.  Jimmy must be thinking the same thing, because he decides to give his tools away.

By the time he gets out of prison, Jimmy is ready to give up his life of crime.  He still values his tools though, looking at them “lovingly.”  Although he wants to go straight, his skills turn out to be needed when the little sister of the girl he loves accidentally locks herself in a brand new and supposed uncrackable safe.

Mr. Adams, in a shaking voice. “My God! Spencer, what shall we do? That child—she can’t live long in there. There isn’t enough air. And the fear will kill her.”

Even though it will violate his parole and let everyone know about his past, Jimmy puts the life of the little girl over his own freedom and the woman he loves.  He knows that he is the only one who can get the little girl free, and time is running out.  Seeing this, Ben Price decides that Jimmy is reformed after all.

Jimmy was placed in a difficult situation.  His old life was calling to him, symbolized in the tools he loved so much. Safecracking is an art, and it is hard to give up.  Jimmy chose good over crime, however, and retrieved his reformation.  He truly showed that when it counted, he would make the right choice.  Jimmy put others ahead of himself.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial