A Retrieved Reformation Questions and Answers
by O. Henry

Start Your Free Trial

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

Expert Answers info

heatherf12 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2012

write5 answers

starTop subject is Literature

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.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

mwestwood, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

bookM.A. from The University of Alabama

calendarEducator since 2006

write16,150 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

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...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 487 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial