A Retrieved Reformation

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A Retrieved Reformation

A Retrieved ReformationBy: O. Henry

Jimmy Valentine, a talented safecracker who is freed from prison. Jimmy still denys that he had ever cracked a safe and robbed the bank that had sent him to prison. Jimmy leaves prison the next day and takes a train to another town where he meets up with Mike Dolan. Jimmy then finds his safe cracking tools where he had left them at his apartment. A week later, a string of bank burglaries comes to investigator Ben Price’s attention, and concludes Jimmy as the theif. Meanwhile, carrying his burglar tools in a suitcase, Jimmy arrives in Elmore, Arkansas, where he plans to rob the bank. While walking, he encounters a woman and in that moment he decides to change his act forever. This women's name is Annabel Adams who is the banker's daughter. Jimmy continues on to the hotel, where he registers as “Ralph D. Spencer.” Jimmy learns that the town does not have a shoe store and buisness is booming. Jimmy Valentine does not rob the bank; instead, “Ralph" settles in Elmore and opens a profitable shoe store. A year goes by while Jimmy enjoys great success. His business is growing and he and Annabel are engaged. To completely move on from his past, Jimmy plans to give his friend his set of safe cracking tools. The day before Jimmy is to leave for Little Rock, Ben Price arrives in Elmore, spots Jimmy , and learns he is about to marry the banker’s daughter. The next day before leaving town, Jimmy goes to the bank with Annabel and the her yonger sisters. Annabel’s father shows off the new burglar-proof safe he has recently installed. While all are admiring the safe, one of the sisters playfuly locks the other in the valt. The safe cannot be opened since the timer and the combination had not been set. Furthermore, she will soon run out of air in the vault. Annabel turns to Jimmy, begging him to do something. Using his tools, Jimmy opens the safe in record time. After the safe is opened, Jimmy puts on his coat and walks away. When he meets up with Ben Price, who has witnessed the scene, Jimmy is prapared to be taken back to jail, but Ben Parks left him alone.



Jimmy thinks that once you have taken the wrong path in life there is no turning back. But the story proves that it is never too late to reform. Everyone deserves a second chance and that you should always do the right thing even if you could lose someone or something important to you is the overarching. Another main theme is that no matter what you've done in the past, you can always start over.


Major characters include Jimmy Valentine; Mike Dolan, his partner in crime; detective Ben Price, Jimmy’s nemesis; and Annabel Adams, the girl with whom Jimmy falls in love. Minor characters are the prison warden; Cronin, a prison guard; Mr. Adams, Annabel’s father; Annabel’s sister; Annabel’s two young nieces, May and Agatha; a hotel clerk; and a young boy who lives in Elmore.

The setting is from a jail located in Arkansas to a small town in Elmore, Arkansas. The town is really small so not much happens there, that is one of the main reasons Jimmy chose that town to rob a bank.

The narrative perspective is third-person omniscient, you can tell because both Jimmy's and Annabel's thoughts are revealed. The mood is suspenseful at the climax, happy in the middle, and old-fashioned, shady in the beginning.

Narrative Analysis


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