The Cop and the Anthem

Chapter Summary

‘The Cop and the Anthem’ is a short story written by O Henry that describes the dilemma of a person to choose between the good and the bad in his life. The main protagonist of the story was a jobless and homeless man. He wanted to make some way to go to prison for kept himself safe from the cold nature of the winter. He made a plan to go to an expensive restaurant and order food without money.

The authority of the restaurant was refusing to hand over him to the cops. The plan was badly unsuccessful and then he made another disaster. He broke a glass window of a store and accepted his crime in front of the cops. The cops were disbelieving him and ran after another man. The unsuccessfulness of all plans made him melancholic and he turned to his childhood memories. The miracles happened and he decided to make a good life for himself. At the end of the story, he got arrested by the cops and went to prison for three months.

Some of the Signs of Winter Approaching

Soapy looked very anxious during the time seated in Madison Square. The approaches of the winter were visible in a form of some natural signs. The signs were the birds moving together in the south direction for the upcoming season. All persons of the city wanted to buy new and cosy coats with alacrity. Soapy watched everything in the park and feels very disturbed.

These all signs are indicated that the season of winter was not very far. The old leaves falling from the tree were another sign of the upcoming winter. One of the dead leaves fell from the tree and comes directly near to the Soapy’s feet. Soapy noticed the dead leaf and realised that winter was not too far from the place of Madison Square.

Why the Cop’s Mind Would Not Consider Soapy?

Soapy noticed a shop situated on Sixth Avenue’s corner with a vast window. The window was made of the material of glass and the light of electricity was spread brightly. Soapy threw a big stone targeted at the big window. The plot was fixed to fulfil his mission to go the prison. The cops came to search for the man who broke the window. Soapy came and surrendered himself in front of the cops. The cops were not trusted him and ran behind an anonymous average person.

What Would Soapy’s Life Be Through the Winter If No Cop Came at the End?

Soapy realised his own mistakes and wanted to start a new beginning in his life.

If the cops did not come at that moment, then he might be lived like a normal person who wanted to found some jobs. The upcoming season might give him more pain with its icy nature.

Sudden and Wonderful Change in Soapy

Soapy walked alone on a street in the south direction of Madison Square after lots of circumstances. He wanted to go to the particular corner of the park as he considered it was his home. His legs were stopped automatically on a lonely corner because it was his childhood birthplace. He could saw lights from the living room’s window where he passed many happy moments. He remembered the past glorious time when he had lots of friends and family members in his life. The sudden change happened at that moment and he realised his mistakes, logic less fears and unworthy desires. He decided to come out from the mud and made a good life with himself.

What is the policeman referring to when he said “We have orders to let them shout”?

Soapy walked in the street restlessly that time he noticed a cop. The cop was standing in the front position of a famous theatre hall. He presented himself as a drunken man and shouted as loud as he could in front of the cop. He pretended to cry and started dancing to get the cop’s attention. The cop did not respond to his activity because the cop thought that he was a college student. The cop did not hurt the boys of college and ordered them to shout.

Episode from the Story as a Good Example of Irony in a Situation

One of the best examples of irony was the moment of arresting the main protagonist of the story. The fear of winter forced Soapy for making plans for the prison. All plans were unsuccessful and his fate directed him to back his memories of childhood. The unexpected changes happened and he decided to live a good life like a man. However, fate decided another destiny for him and at the end of the story; he got prison for three months.

Why Soapy’s First Plan Didn’t Work?

The mind of Soapy was in a state of restlessness because of the thought of his homeless condition in the season of winter. He prays that the winter was not very cold and anxious to find some way to save him from the coldness of winter. He had no thought about moving away with the ship by sailing himself. He did not want to go to the bay of Naples or the southern part to protect him from winter. He desperately wanted to go to the prison and the prison was situated on the island of Blackwell’s. He planned to go to dinner in an expensive restaurant and according to him; this was the easiest way to go to prison. The cop would arrest him for the crime of moneyless condition on the time of eating dinner in a famous restaurant.

Soapy entered a restaurant with a good gesture; he makes sure to look his face clean and his legs looked fine. According to his plan, he takes a seat and the waiter asked for his order. The waiter who was heading the restaurant noticed his old clothes and broken shoes. Due to this reason, the authority of the restaurant refused the proposal of calling the cops.


Q1. Why did Soapy want to go to prison?

Ans. The main protagonist of the story was homeless and had fear of the coldness of winter. Soapy decided to go to prison for three months to avoided the winter.

Q2. Why Soapy get arrested at the last moment of the story?

Ans. Soapy wanted something to survive in the winter season. He decided to steal an umbrella from the shop’s man. Due to this crime, cops arrested him.

Q3. What was Soapy’s main target?

Ans. Soapy wanted to lead a good life like a gentleman. He wanted to get shelter and food for living a good life.

Updated on: 05-Jan-2023

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