A Retrieved Reformation Questions and Answers
by O. Henry

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What is ironic about the ending of "A Retrieved Reformation" in O. Henry's "A Retrieved Reformation"?

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heatherf12 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This story also has the irony that is fairly typical in some of O. Henry's other stories.  As in "The Gift of the Magi," the hero, Valentine, ends up giving up the one thing that makes him happy (which in this case is Annabel) in order to bring her happiness (saving her niece).  This is also what shows that he has made a true reformation from the selfish criminal that he once was.  It is also quite ironic that he has to use his criminal safe-cracking skills in order to save the little girl, thereby doing the right thing.

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mwestwood, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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O. Henry's "A Retrieved Reformation " is built upon a series of ironies that culminate in the most moving of all. When Dandy Jim Valentine is released from prison because his friend Mike Dolan has finally effected a pardon from the governor, Jimmy has every intention of continuing his life as a safe-cracker.  However, as Jimmy moves from place to place in order...

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