Critical Analysis: After Twenty Years by O. Henry

O. Henry’s short story ‘After Twenty Years’ is a typical one. In this story, the author has narrated an appointment fixed twenty years ago. This sort of appointment is peculiar and surprising. The beginning of the story seems to be the continuation of a long story but this is not so. The story begins in a novel way.

The description of the policeman and his swaggering does not leave a little scope to estimate that he was one of the partners to be engaged. On the other hand, the man from the west seems to be sonsy and frank. Nobody could even imagine that the man from the west was being chased by the police of Chicago.

The two friends who promised to meet twenty years later were opposite in their ways of life. Jimmy Wells was an honest police officer and a good friend while Bob aiming at making money could go to any extent but he was good as a friend. The author, through this narrative, has depicted two opposite features of the society. Though Jimmy Wells and Bob are reverse in character still they are friends. Twenty years is enough time to shape one’s state. A man can pulverise any obstacle to build up his fate. The story tells this truth mildly. The author relates this story in a beautiful way and establishes his skill to turn a simple event into a charmful story. The story is surprising in its range and fullness. The short sentences and the use of unfamiliar words at times, may at first seem to be jarring in effect. But as we go through the story we are impressed by the author’s gift of narration.

The author has used artful but not figurative language. The style is rather simple but its display is very distinct. Economy which is the soul of a short story has been perfectly maintained by O. Henry in After Twenty Years’. The story is told in a captivating manner.