Get here the notes, questions, answers, textbook solutions, summary, extras, and PDF of BSEM or BoSEM (Manipur Board) Class 10 Additional English prose “After 20 Years” by O. Henry. However, the provided notes should only be treated as references, and the students are encouraged to make changes to them as they feel appropriate.
It was a dark, windy night in New York City on a deserted business avenue. A policeman on patrol was making his way up the avenue when he suddenly slowed his pace. He had spotted a man leaning against a darkened hardware store in a doorway, smoking an unlighted cigar. The policeman approached the man, who quickly explained that he was waiting for a friend he had an appointment with. This appointment had been made exactly twenty years ago, at Big Joe Brady’s restaurant which used to be in the same spot where the hardware store now stood.
The man in the doorway explained that he and his friend, Jimmy Wells, had made a pact to meet again exactly twenty years after the night they dined at Big Joe Brady’s restaurant. He was eighteen at the time and Jimmy was twenty, he was about to head West to make his fortune, while Jimmy couldn’t be dragged out of New York. The policeman found the story interesting and asked if the man had heard from Jimmy since. The man replied that they corresponded for a while but eventually lost track of each other. He was sure, however, that Jimmy would be there if he was alive, as he was the truest and staunchest of friends.
The man pulled out a handsome watch, set with small diamonds, and stated that he had done pretty well for himself in the West and hoped Jimmy had done half as well. The wind had risen into a steady blow and the drizzle had turned into a cold rain. The man, who had traveled a thousand miles to keep the appointment, smoked his cigar and waited.
After twenty minutes, a tall man in a long overcoat approached him, asking if he was Bob. The man in the doorway exclaimed with excitement that it was Jimmy Wells, his best friend. The two men walked arm in arm up the street and as they approached the glare of the electric lights, the man from the West turned to gaze at his friend’s face. Suddenly, he realised that the tall man was not Jimmy as Jimmy had a different shaped nose.
At this, the tall man told him that he been under arrest for ten minutes. He handed Bob a note, explaining that he was a plain-clothes patrolman and that Jimmy, the real Jimmy Wells, had sent the note. The note read, “Bob, I was at the appointed place on time. When you struck the match to light your cigar, I saw it was the face of the man wanted in Chicago. Somehow, I couldn’t do it myself. So, I went around and got a plain clothes man to do the job. Your friend, Jimmy!”
The policeman Bob met in the beginning of the story was indeed his friend.
Answer the following questions in a phrase/sentence each
1. Where were Jimmy Wells and Bob raised?
Answer: Jimmy Wells and Bob were raised in New York.
2. Name the appointed place where the two friends are to meet after twenty years.
Answer: The appointed place where the two friends are to meet after twenty years is “Big Joe” Brady’s restaurant.
3. What made the streets depeople?
Answer: Chilly gusts of wind with a taste of rain in them had depeopled the streets.
4. What is the meaning of ‘guardian of peace’?
Answer: Guardian of peace refers to a police officer.
5. Where was Bob to start for?
Answer: Bob was to start for the West.
6. How has the West treated Bob?
Answer: The West treated Bob well and helped him make his fortune. He has been successful there, which has caused his ego to grow.
7. How did the policeman leave Bob?
Answer: The policeman left Bob saying “Goodnight, sir.”
8. Why did the other man wish the old restaurant to be there?
Answer: The other man wished the old restaurant still stood because he and his friend Jimmy Wells had made plans to reunite there exactly 20 years later, regardless of the circumstances or the distance they would have to travel..
9. How did Bob recognise the tall man was not Jimmy Wells?
Answer: Bob recognized that the tall man was not Jimmy Wells because of the change in his nose shape. Bob commented that 20 years is a long time, but not enough to change a man’s nose from a Roman to a pug, referring to the difference he saw in the tall man’s nose compared to Jimmy Wells’s.
10. Why was Bob wanted by the Chicago police?
Answer: Bob was wanted by the Chicago police because he was a criminal.
11. Why did Jimmy not arrest Bob?
Answer: In the story, Jimmy chose not to arrest Bob himself and instead got a plainclothes man to do the job because he saw Bob’s face when Bob struck a match to light his cigar, and recognised him as the man wanted in Chicago. Jimmy couldn’t bring himself to make the arrest, so he went and found someone else to do it.
12. What is the significance of ‘Big Joe’ Brady’s restaurant’ in the story?
Answer: Bob and Jimmy Wells had dinner together at “Big Joe” Brady’s restaurant twenty years before the story’s events. After 20 years, Bob had travelled to the same place to see his old friend, as promised, and he had faith that if Jimmy Wells were still alive, he surely would be there too, waiting for him at the same restaurant. In the story, “Big Joe” Brady’s restaurant is significant because it served as a nod to the past and a reminder of the two men’s friendship. The eatery served as the symbol of their friendship, and Bob had faith that Jimmy Wells would meet him there after all these years.
Answer the following questions in about 25-30 words each
1. Relate the first meeting of Bob and Jimmy Wells after 20 yrs.
Answer: Bob and the policeman met for the first time at the designated spot in front of the darkened hardware store. Bob, who was waiting for his friend Jimmy Wells, shared with the policeman that before they parted ways 20 years ago, they had made a promise to meet at the same place, at the same time, on the same date after 20 years. Bob proudly informed the policeman that he had kept his promise, and was confident that Jimmy would also keep his. However, after hearing Bob’s story, the policeman walked away, leaving Bob waiting for Jimmy.
2. How did Jimmy Wells manage to arrest Bob?
Answer: Jimmy Wells managed to arrest Bob by calling in a plainclothes police officer to do the job as he could not do it himself because of his friendship with Bob. When Bob lit a cigar, Jimmy saw the face of the man wanted in Chicago and realized he couldn’t arrest him himself, so he bid him goodbye, without revealing that he indeed was Jimmy and he was there to fuifil the promise. He then went around and got a plainclothes police officer to do the task.
3. How did Bob become rich in the West?
Answer: The means by which Bob amassed his wealth in the West are never explained in the story. However, because he was on the police’s most wanted list, it’s safe for us to assume that he acquired his wealth through more nefarious means than legitimate work.
4. Give your first impression of the policeman.
Answer: My initial impression of the policeman, as described in the story, is that he is a careful and observant officer who is performing his duty by keeping watch over the streets. He seems to be a responsible person who takes his job seriously. Further, he might be a friendly and approachable person, as he strikes up a conversation with the protagonist, but true to his duty at the same time as he does not let his friendship with Bob steer him away from his responsibility as a police officer. Overall, I would describe the policeman as a reliable and trustworthy individual who is dedicated to his work.
5. How do you know that the tall man is not Jimmy Wells?
Answer: As Bob examined the tall man’s face in the fluorescent lighting of the drug store, he realised that his nose did not match his memory of Jimmy’s. Bob argues that twenty years may seem like a long time, but it’s not long enough to transform a man’s nose from Roman to pug.
6. Where does the story reach its climax?
Answer: The story reaches its climax when Bob realises that the tall man he is talking to and claiming to be his friend, is not Jimmy Wells and that he has been under arrest for ten minutes. The climax is heightened when Bob reads the note from Jimmy and realises that his friend Jimmy had met him and gone to get a plainclothes man to make the arrest after he recognises his face as of a wanted criminal and he could not make the arrest himself.
7. Why did Bob’s hand tremble a little by the time he had finished reading the note?
Answer: Bob’s hand trembled a little by the time he had finished reading the note because the note was from Jimmy, Bob’s friend, informing him that he had been under arrest for ten minutes and that he was the one who had arranged for Bob’s arrest. This realisation must have come as a shock to Bob, causing his hand to tremble.
8. How does Bob impress you as a friend and a wanted gangster?
Answer: Bob is presented as having a complex personality. He is described as a Westerner and as Jimmy Wells’ former best friend. He is still regarded as charming and well-mannered despite being a wanted criminal. After 20 years, he finally runs into Jimmy, and despite being a criminal, he doesn’t seem hostile toward him. Despite Jimmy’s criminal activities, Bob is still emotionally attached to his former friend as evidenced by the fact that his hand slightly trembled as he read the note from Jimmy. Bob is portrayed in the story as a complex individual with both positive and negative traits, which makes him an engaging and multifaceted character.
9. Give the content of the ‘note’ Bob read.
Answer: The note read: “Bob, I was at the appointed place on time. When you struck the match to light your cigar, I saw the face of the man wanted in Chicago. Somehow I couldn’t do it myself, so I went around and got a plainclothes man to do the job.”
10. Give your comments on the title of the story.
Answer: “After 20 Years” is indeed a suitable title, as it represents the fleeting nature of time and the reunion of two old friends, Bob and Jimmy, who have not seen each other for 20 years. This title sets the scene for a story about contemplation, reminiscing, and a trace of sadness, as the two friends promise to meet again and consider the changes and events that have occurred in their lives since their last encounter. The title, straightforward yet impactful, sets the atmosphere for a story that examines the transitory nature of time and its influence on our relationships and lives, reminding us that even though everything changes, some reminders of familiarity always remain between two points in time.
11. How did Jimmy Wells treat Bob at the end of the story?
Answer: Jimmy Wells eventually ended up arresting Bob at the conclusion of the story. Not being able to effect the arrest himself, he had someone else do it. Jimmy chose to be a good police officer and enforce the law, despite the fact that he and the suspect were old friends. He was responsible and didn’t let his emotions get in the way of his job.
Answer the questions in about 100 words each
1. Describe how the element of suspense works in the development of the story.
Answer: After Twenty Years is a suspenseful story. Suspense is present from the start. A police officer observed Bob standing on the hardware store doorway. He was eagerly awaiting his friend because of a twenty-year-old appointment. At that point, it was impossible to predict whether or not his friend Jimmy Wells would show up. Readers are kept guessing as to how the story will end. Again, the identities of the police officer and the tall man remain confusing because the writer never gives a clear picture of it before the revelation near the end that the police officer Bob met at the start of the story was his friend Jimmy and the tall man was just a proxy sent by Jimmy to arrest Bob because Bob was a criminal and Jimmy couldn’t make the arrest himself.
2. “Jimmy Wells is a sincere friend and pragmatic policeman” Justify the above remark.
Answer: The statement “Jimmy Wells is a sincere friend and pragmatic policeman” can be justified by examining his actions in the story. In the story, Jimmy was to arrest his friend Bob, a man wanted in Chicago. Despite their close friendship, Jimmy performed his duty as a policeman and helped bring Bob to justice. This shows his sincerity as a friend, as he did not let their relationship interfere with his professional responsibilities. On the other hand, Jimmy also showed pragmatism by choosing to enlist the help of a plainclothes man to make the arrest instead of doing it himself. This demonstrates his practicality and ability to think about the situation objectively. Overall, Jimmy’s actions in the story reveal that he is a sincere friend who is also practical and efficient in his duties as a policeman.
3. Write how the writer tackles the problem of friendship and crime in the story.
Answer: Through the story of Patrolman Wells and his friend “After 20 Years,” Bob in “Silky” O. Henry addresses the complex themes of friendship and justice. The story depicts Patrolman Wells’ inner turmoil as he must choose between his duty as a police officer and his loyalty to his friend. Despite his strong attachment to Bob, Patrolman Wells must make the difficult decision to prosecute him for his criminal activities. The author emphasises the conflicting values of friendship and morality, demonstrating that even the closest of friends can find themselves in a difficult situation when justice is at stake. O. Henry suggests in this story that when it comes to crime and justice, the greater good must always take priority, even if it means jeopardising personal relationships.
4. Give a character sketch of Bob.
Answer: Bob, also known as “Silky” Bob, is a dynamic and complex character in O. Henry’s short story “After Twenty Years” Bob is remembered despite his association with the criminal underworld for his unwavering commitment to friendship. He exemplifies the complexity of human nature as he simultaneously represents ambition and loyalty. Bob demonstrates his integrity and sense of duty through his thousand-mile journey to fulfil his promise to his childhood friend Jimmy Wells. His determination to uphold his friendship demonstrates his sincerity, despite his overconfidence. Bob’s character provides a thought-provoking examination of the thin line between right and wrong and the influence of friendship on one’s life decisions.
5. Attempt a comment on the physical atmosphere in “After Twenty Years”.
Answer: The physical atmosphere of “After Twenty Years” is described briefly but effectively. A drug store, “brilliant with electric lights” stands at the corner of a city street. This description creates an eerie and suspenseful atmosphere by contrasting the bright light of the pharmacy with the darkness outside. Tensions between the two long-lost friends are heightened by the electric lights, which represent progress and evolution in addition to the passage of time. Descriptions of the men’s actions—the man from the West’s trembling as he reads the note handed to him, and the man’s sudden release of his arm as they stop at the corner—add to the tension. Each of these facets works together to heighten the story’s overall effect by heightening the reader’s sense of dread.
6. If you were Jimmy Wells what would you do in the context of the story?
Answer: Putting myself in Jimmy Wells’ shoes, I think I’d be torn between my sworn obligation to uphold the law and my loyalty to Bob, a friend I’ve known since I was a child. One the one hand, Bob is wanted for a crime, and it is my responsibility to bring him to justice. But I’ve known Bob for a long time, and back in the day, he was a decent human being. It would be difficult for me to decide between following the law and following my conscience and the friendships I value. I might think about what prompted Bob to commit the crime, and then try to strike a fair compromise between punishment and mercy.
7. Comment on the ending of “After Twenty Years.”
Answer: The ending of “After Twenty Years” is a classic example of O. Henry’s trademark style of unexpected twist endings. The story’s climax surprises the reader, as the two old friends are about to get cosy, only to discover that one of them is a wanted criminal and the other is a police officer tasked by Bob’s actual friend Jimmy with his arrest, whom Bob had met before the man claiming to be Jimmy arrived but Bob could not recognise him. However, the actual Jimmy recognised him and also realised that Bob was a criminal and was wanted by the police. The ending leaves a lasting impact as it raises questions about the true nature of friendship and the complex moral dilemma faced by Jimmy Wells in the course of his duty as a police officer. The ending also highlights the theme of the passage of time and its effects on people, relationships, and circumstances. Overall, the ending is both poignant and thought-provoking, highlighting the author’s mastery of storytelling.
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