In "The Cop and the Anthem" why does Soapy not want to take advantage of charity?  

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As O. Henry details in "The Cop and the Anthem," Soapy has no desire to take advantage of charity, much preferring to spend the winter months in prison. As the story tells it:

In Soapy's opinion the Law was more benign than Philanthropy. There was an endless round of institutions, municipal and eleemosynary, on which he might set out and receive lodging and food accordant with the simple life. But to one of Soapy's proud spirit the gifts of charity are encumbered. If not in coin you must pay in humiliation of spirit for every benefit received at the hands of philanthropy. As Caesar had his Brutus, every bed of charity must have its toll of a bath, every loaf of bread its compensation of a private and personal inquisition. (O. Henry)

This excerpt describes Soapy's outlook on charity. Soapy is proud, first of all, too proud to accept charity. Additionally, he tends to view charity as humiliating by its very nature. There is a sense here, especially in that last sentence, by which the acceptance of charity opens a person up to judgment, on the part of the people who are offering that charity. Soapy himself would rather do without this experience, and so he figures that it would be more agreeable to get himself arrested, and spend the winter months in jail.

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In O. Henry's short story "The Cop and the Anthem" the main character, Soapy is a proud man. It is his pride that leads to the story's great irony.  As a homeless man on the streets of New York City, he could take advantage of any number of charities, but his pride prevents him from doing so.  He was a strong believer that a man should only take what he can afford to pay back in one way or another.

There was an endless round of institutions, municipal and eleemosynary, on which he might set out and receive lodging and food accordant with the simple life. But to one of Soapy's proud spirit the gifts of charity are encumbered. If not in coin you must pay in humiliation of spirit for every benefit received at the hands of philanthropy.

Instead, he decides that it would be better to get arrested than to accept a handout from a stranger.  He knows that if he is in jail he will have a warm meal, shower, and place to sleep and, more importantly, he would not owe anyone anything. So poor Soapy tries numerous ways to get arrested.  It is only when he decides to live the straight and honest life that he is arrested and sent to jail.

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