What does the title "After Twenty Years" mean?

The title "After Twenty Years" has both a literal and figurative meaning. Literally, twenty years have gone by since the friends last saw each other. Figuratively, twenty years can change circumstances but also preserve bonds.

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The significance of the title of O’Henry’s “After Twenty Years” is great. Taken literally, the title reflects that the action of the story takes place after twenty years of time have elapsed. However, the title also reflects a theme and irony of the story.

The theme that true friendship spans time, even decades, is clear. Jimmy and Bob are old friends. At some point, twenty years ago, they agreed they would meet at this place and time. It’s clear that they were good friends. Bob reminisces about Jimmy, “the truest, stanchest old chap in the world,” and is excited to meet his old buddy. Even though the friends have not directly communicated with each other over time, their bond remains strong so that both men keep their appointment to reunite after twenty years.

Additionally, the friendship is still so strong that Jimmy cannot arrest his old friend when he recognizes Bob as a wanted criminal. Jimmy took an oath as a police officer to uphold the law; he will not turn his back...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1002 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on July 22, 2020
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