A Retrieved Reformation

by

O. Henry

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on A Retrieved Reformation can help.

The Warden Character Analysis

The man in charge of the prison where Jimmy Valentine serves time after his arrest in Springfield. As Jimmy is released from prison, the warden advises him to “brace up” and “make a man of himself,” claiming that Jimmy is “not a bad fellow at heart.” His advice to Jimmy implies that the ticket to the straight life is an honest profession, and through this O. Henry draws a direct parallel between morality and work. The warden is pleasant and jokes easily with Jimmy during his release; however, the crooked nature of Jimmy’s pardon and his expected short stay in his prison makes the warden implicit in the obvious corruption that surrounds Jimmy’s sham punishment.

The Warden Quotes in A Retrieved Reformation

The A Retrieved Reformation quotes below are all either spoken by The Warden or refer to The Warden. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love and Redemption  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Modern Library edition of A Retrieved Reformation published in 1994.
A Retrieved Reformation Quotes

[T]he warden handed Jimmy his pardon, which had been signed that morning by the governor. Jimmy took it in a tired kind of way. He had served nearly ten months of a four-year sentence. He had expected to stay only about three months, at the longest. When a man with as many friends on the outside as Jimmy Valentine had is received in the “stir” it is hardly worth while to cut his hair.

Page Number: 117-8
Explanation and Analysis:

“Now, Valentine,” said the warden, “you’ll go out in the morning. Brace up, and make a man of yourself. You’re not a bad fellow at heart. Stop cracking safes, and live straight.”

Related Characters: Jimmy Valentine/Ralph D. Spencer (speaker), The Warden (speaker)
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:

“How was it you happened to get sent up on that Springfield job? Was it because you wouldn’t prove an alibi for fear of compromising somebody in extremely high-toned society?”

Related Characters: The Warden (speaker), Jimmy Valentine/Ralph D. Spencer
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:

The clerk handed him a railroad ticket and the five-dollar bill with which the law expected him to rehabilitate himself into good citizenship and prosperity. The warden gave him a cigar, and shook hands. Valentine, 9762, was chronicled on the books “Pardoned by the Governor,” and Mr. James Valentine walked out into the sunshine.

Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire A Retrieved Reformation LitChart as a printable PDF.
A Retrieved Reformation PDF

The Warden Character Timeline in A Retrieved Reformation

The timeline below shows where the character The Warden appears in A Retrieved Reformation. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
A Retrieved Reformation
Love and Redemption  Theme Icon
Work, Ethics, and Morality Theme Icon
Justice and the Law Theme Icon
...hard at work in the prison shoe-shop when a guard comes to escort him to the warden ’s office. Jimmy has been pardoned by the governor, and instead of celebrating, he accepts... (full context)
Love and Redemption  Theme Icon
Work, Ethics, and Morality Theme Icon
Change and Identity Theme Icon
Justice and the Law Theme Icon
The warden advises Jimmy to stop cracking safes and live straight, reminding him that he’s “not a... (full context)