23 pages 46 minutes read

O. Henry

After Twenty Years

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1906

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Character Analysis

Bob (the Man from the West)

Even though the story begins with the patrolman, later revealed to be Jimmy, the story revolves around the first protagonist, Bob, who Jimmy speaks with early in the story. Bob is a wealthy man, vain and bragging, who wears expensive, flashy items and is happy to talk to an apparent stranger, like the police officer, about his success. However, Bob is also a devoted and loyal friend demonstrated by the fact that he kept his promise and showed up for his friend, even though they hadn’t communicated in over a decade. Bob at first appears to the reader to be the ideal best friend, and certainly he identifies as such: he has traveled a thousand miles to meet Jimmy, maintaining his identity as a loyal friend. The reader finds out, however, that Bob is “Silky” Bob, a wanted criminal who has not found his fortune but has taken it by force. It is a surprise to find that the main character is actually wanted by the law, which complicates Bob’s character, showing how a criminal can be loyal and desire a sense of belonging.