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Monday, 2 August 2010

After twenty years

Writer: O. Henry


After Twenty Years is a story about two characters, Bob and Jimmy Wells. Before parting ways in order to build their careers, the two friends had promised each other that twenty years down the line, they would meet at a particular restaurant. The story begins with one friend, Bob, having reached the meeting place and waiting for his friend to turn up. While waiting, a policeman on his duty stops by and Bob tells him the reason behind his standing in the dark corner. The cop informs him that the restaurant was demolished five years ago. A conversation starts and Bob tells the policeman about his career and how he struck it rich in the west and how he wishes that Jimmy too had done well. The policeman wishes him luck and continues on his beat. A little later, a man walks up to Bob, and addresses him by his name. The two friends then get chatting, with Bob telling his friend about how the west treated him. While walking, they reach a lighted area, when Bob stops abruptly and realizes that the person he has been talking to all along was not his friend Jimmy. When Bob says the same to the other man, Bob is informed that he has been under arrest for the past ten minutes. The stranger then hands a note to Bob. The note is from Patrolman Jimmy Wells, (the same policeman who was talking to Bob when he was waiting for Jimmy to turn up) and says that Jimmy was in the appointed place at the given time, but when Bob lit the cigar and Jimmy saw in his friend’s face the face of a wanted criminal, he went away. Jimmy could not arrest his friend Bob himself and so asked someone else to arrest Bob.


Jimmy Wells: (cop, best fellow in the world; strong and important person who controls the safety of the people). He loves New York. He is fine-looking cop, watchful, guarding the peace. He is as true as any man in the world.

Bob: Has a colorless square face with bright eyes, and a little white mark near his right eye. He has a large jewel in his necktie.

Setting (place/time):

- It was probably winter.
- The weather was cold, there was wind and rain.
- The story takes place in New York.

General plot:

The story is about the relationship between two friends. Twenty years ago two friends had their last dinner together. One of them was leaving town to find "great success". They agreed to meet in 20 years time to see who they were and the kind of future that waited for each of them.

“After Twenty Years” Quiz

Multiple Choice Circle the letter of the best answer for each of the following questions.

1.The man standing in the doorway of the hardware store seems out of place in the neighborhood because
A. he appears to be a wealthy man.
B. no one there knows him.
C. the businesses are all closed for the night.
D. it is a dangerous place to be. _______

2. As the police officer approaches, what does the man in the doorway do?
A. shrinks back
B. stares at him intently
C. begins to walk away
D. speaks to him immediately _______

3. The story suggests that as young men, Bob and Jimmy
A. had very similar personalities.
B. had been very close friends.
C. wanted the same things out of life.
D. didn't actually care much about each other. _______

4. Bob's hand most likely trembles at the end of the story because of his feelings of
A. fear.
B. anger.
C. hatred.
D. regret. _______

5. The story implies that the reason Bob and Jimmy lost track of each other was because
A. Bob was staying out of sight to avoid arrest.
B. Jimmy had become a police officer.
C. Bob was too busy to think about his old friend.
D. Jimmy's address kept changing. _______

6. When the police officer asked Bob whether he would hold his friend to the exact time of the meeting, he actually wanted to find out whether
A. Bob was as true a friend as he claimed to be.
B. he had enough time to send another officer.
C. Bob knew that he really was Jimmy.
D. he should come back later without his police uniform. _______

7. The first clue that something unexpected was about to happen came when Bob
A. lit a cigar.
B. noticed that Jimmy was much taller than he used to be.
C. pulled out his watch
D. read the note from Patrolman Wells. _______


  1. Can I please have the answers to the multiple choice questions. Thank you.

  2. Of course!
    Some of them may admit more than one possibility, but the point is that you might exchange ideas and opinions with your class mates!

    1 C , 2 D , 3 B, 4 A, 5 C ,6 B , 7 B