23 pages 46 minutes read

O. Henry

After Twenty Years

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1906

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Symbols & Motifs

Big Joe Brady’s Restaurant

Even though New York City is the setting of the story, Big Joe Brady’s Restaurant is the more precise setting, as it is where Bob and Jimmy promised to reunite after 20 years. The restaurant is the last place the friends had gotten dinner together, so they agreed that it would be the meeting place. Unfortunately, 20 years later, the police officer (Jimmy) explains that it had been closed for five years. Thus, the restaurant represents the friendship between Jimmy and Bob: a happy place of the past, now unavailable to them, where they could meet and speak as peers. The restaurant has disappeared, just as their friendship and connection can no longer be accessed by either of them. Further, it is the first indication of the monumental change that has occurred, reflected in the changes in New York City, since Bob and Jimmy last saw each other. The men they have both grown into means the termination of their friendship, just as the growth of the city led to the closure of the restaurant.