The Cop and the Anthem

by

O. Henry

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Cop and the Anthem can help.

The Church Anthem Symbol Analysis

The Church Anthem  Symbol Icon

At the end of “The Cop and the Anthem,” Soapy has an epiphany after listening to a song—the “anthem” of the story’s title—emanating from a church. While the church in O. Henry’s story feels surprisingly void of its religious connotations, the anthem emanating from it does nevertheless symbolize hope and redemption for Soapy. He vows to “pull himself out of the mire” and “make a man of himself again” when he hears this song, and O. Henry even goes so far as to say that the church anthem causes a “revolution” in Soapy. Perhaps his most tangible vow is that he will go into New York’s downtown district and find work. “There was time yet,” the narrator remarks while Soapy stares at the church, underscoring his new feeling of potential. One could even argue that the church anthem is a metaphor for the National Anthem, and the feeling it puts in Soapy is symbolic of the promises of the American Dream. Soapy is notably on the outside of the church looking in this scene, barred from entrance by a fence (as many immigrants were at the turn of the 20th century), and yet the music he hears is so moving to him that he vows to change his life and chase life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That he is ultimately unable to, however, would suggest that the hope instilled in him by the church—and perhaps by the American Dream itself—is illusory for those at the bottom rungs of society as Soapy is.

The Church Anthem Quotes in The Cop and the Anthem

The The Cop and the Anthem quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Church Anthem . 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:
Poverty, Homelessness, and Crime Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Modern Library Editions edition of The Cop and the Anthem published in 1994.
The Cop and the Anthem Quotes

And the anthem that the organist played cemented Soapy to the iron fence, for he had known it well in the days when his life contained such things as mothers and roses and ambitions and friends and immaculate thoughts and collars.

Related Characters: Soapy
Related Symbols: The Church Anthem
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

He would pull himself out of the mire; he would make a man of himself again; he would conquer the evil that had taken possession of him. There was time; he was comparatively young yet: he would resurrect his old eager ambitions and pursue them without faltering.

Related Characters: Soapy
Related Symbols: The Church Anthem
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Cop and the Anthem LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Cop and the Anthem PDF

The Church Anthem Symbol Timeline in The Cop and the Anthem

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Church Anthem appears in The Cop and the Anthem. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Cop and the Anthem
Poverty, Homelessness, and Crime Theme Icon
The American Dream  Theme Icon
Society, Power, and Class Theme Icon
Community and Home  Theme Icon
Dejected and discouraged, Soapy arrives at an iron fence surrounding an old church. The tone of the story shifts deliberately in this scene, creating a “lustrous and serene”... (full context)