What is the EXTERNAL CONFLICT in O. Henry's After Twenty Years?

Expert Answers
schulzie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The external conflict has to do with the twenty years  that have passed since the two men have seen one another.  People change a lot in twenty years, and both men have no idea what to look for in a physical appearance .  Jimmy, the policeman, says that when Bob lit the cigar he was smoking, he recognized the man who was wanted in Chicago, not his friend, Bob.  The only reason he knew it was his friend was from their conversation.  Bob also did not recognize his friend.  He befriends this man who walks up to him, but he even comments that he doesn’t remember Jimmy having that height.  Still, he is willing to be persuaded that Jimmy grew a few inches after he turned twenty! It wasn’t until he saw his nose --- not his full face, but his nose, that he realizes that it isn’t his friend. Jimmy.  The problem is resolved with the note.