Career safecracker and thief Jimmy Valentine’s suitcase of burglar’s tools is mentioned several times throughout “A Retrieved Reformation.” Made in part by Valentine himself, the high-quality tools represent Jimmy’s expertise and dedication to his trade. Jimmy owns “the finest set of burglar’s tools in the East,” and he takes great pride in his custom-made pieces. When five thousand dollars is stolen from a bank-safe in Jefferson City, detective Ben Price knows that Jimmy is the culprit; after all, Jimmy’s “got the only clamps that can do it.”
The tools take on deeper significance after Jimmy falls in love with Annabel Adams and vows to live a straight and decent life. Jimmy “quits the old business” and intends to gift his suitcase of tools to an old friend and fellow thief—so that they may be put to good use. Ironically, as Jimmy is delivering the suitcase, Annabel’s niece, Agatha, becomes accidentally locked in the safe at The Elmore Bank. At the blind behest of Annabel and her family, Jimmy quickly cracks the safe with the tools, freeing Agatha and saving her life. In that moment, Jimmy (living under the guise of Ralph D. Spencer, an honest shoe salesman) sacrifices his false identity and potentially his relationship with Annabel, even though he has used his tools for good instead of bad. In the end, Jimmy’s tools—the very things that make his success as a thief possible—become the means through which Jimmy saves Agatha and redeems himself.
Jimmy’s Tools Quotes in A Retrieved Reformation
Pulling out from the wall a folding-bed, Jimmy slid back a panel in the wall and dragged out a dust-covered suitcase. He opened this and gazed fondly at the finest set of burglar’s tools in the East. It was a complete set, made of specially tempered steel, the latest designs in drills, punches, braces and bits, jimmies, clamps, and augers, with two or three novelties invented by Jimmy himself, in which he took pride.
From that time on [Jimmy] seemed to be unconscious of the presence of any one else. He laid out the shining, queer implements swiftly and orderly, whistling softly to himself as he always did when at work. In a deep silence and immovable, the others watched him as if under a spell.