What is the possible problem in the story "After Twenty Years"?O. Henry

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The central conflict of O. Henry's ironic short story "After Twenty Years" is an internal problem.  The policeman, JImmy Wells, is torn between his duty as an officer of the law and his loyalty and friendship to the friend of his youth, 'Silky' Bob, who has arrived for their previously arranged twenty-year reunion.

That there is an internal conflict within the heart of Officer Wells is not apparent at first; however, when the plain-clothes officer arrests Bob and shows him the letter at the surprise ending of the story, the reader is made aware that it is only his friendship which has prevented Jimmy from making the arrest at the time that Bob lights his cigar which reveals his features.