A Retrieved Reformation

by

O. Henry

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Annabel’s Rose Symbol Icon

The rose pinned to Annabel Adams’s dress is only mentioned once in “A Retrieved Reformation,” yet it is deeply symbolic of Jimmy’s love for Annabel. After assuming the identity of Ralph D. Spencer, Jimmy asks Annabel for the rose right before he breaks into Mr. Adams’s safe to save Agatha. Jimmy knows that his true identity will be exposed, at least in part, when he cracks the safe, and he asks Annabel for the rose to remember her by. Annabel is not guaranteed to still love Jimmy after she discovers his real identity, and Jimmy knows that he risks her leaving when she learns who, and what, he truly is. Considering Jimmy’s risk, Annabel’s rose symbolizes more than just Jimmy’s love for her. The thorny nature of the rose’s stem implies an inherent risk for pain in relation to love. Undoubtedly, Jimmy’s love for Annabel brings his life joy and purpose; however, if rebuffed for being a thief, Jimmy’s love for Annabel will certainly be the cause of deep pain as well.

Annabel’s Rose Quotes in A Retrieved Reformation

The A Retrieved Reformation quotes below all refer to the symbol of Annabel’s Rose. 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

“Annabel,” he said, “give me that rose you are wearing, will you?”

Hardly believing that she heard him aright, she unpinned the bud from the bosom of her dress, and placed it in his hand. Jimmy stuffed it into his vest-pocket, threw of his coat and pulled up his shirt-sleeves. With that act Ralph D. Spencer passed away and Jimmy Valentine took his place.

Related Characters: Jimmy Valentine/Ralph D. Spencer (speaker), Annabel Adams, Agatha
Related Symbols: Annabel’s Rose
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:
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Annabel’s Rose Symbol Timeline in A Retrieved Reformation

The timeline below shows where the symbol Annabel’s Rose 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
Change and Identity Theme Icon
 Smiling, Jimmy asks Annabel for the rose that is pinned to her dress. Confused, Annabel unpins the rose and hands it to... (full context)