Just like Jimmy Valentine’s tools represent his dedication to his criminal profession, Ben Price’s collar-button represents his own dedication to his job as a police detective. O. Henry points out Price’s button on the floor of Jimmy’s apartment after Jimmy is released from prison. Price, the epitome of hard work and ethics, lost the button when it was torn from his shirt during his arrest of Jimmy for an unspecified crime in Springfield—the very crime that landed Jimmy in prison. O. Henry’s story draws a direct parallel between hard work and morality, and Price’s profession serving the public underscores this association. After all, Price, a revered and accomplished detective, puts forth such an effort executing his job that his button is torn from his shirt in the process. Price’s button symbolizes his hard work and effort, which in turn is a direct representation of his ethics and morality.
The timeline below shows where the symbol Ben Price’s Button appears in A Retrieved Reformation. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
A Retrieved Reformation