Summary of O. Henry’s The Cop and the Anthem

The Cop and the Anthem has been written by O. Henry.


Soapy, a young man, had left his parents and become a vagabond. He spent all his days in Madison Square alone which was all right in summer as he made his bed warm with three newspapers. There were many others like him living there.

One day he started feeling uneasy that what would happen in winter which was now approaching. The park bench felt cold and he needed a cosy place. He never thought of going to warmer places outside the country. He just needed three months in the prison on Blackwell’s Island. He was sure of getting food and a bed once there every night. There he would be safe from the cold wind and also from the fear of the police. During winter he had been to the prison a number of times.

Hence, he decided to go to prison somehow because if he went to some other place he would have to pay for his room and meals. The prison was a better option as he would be his own master, and at some other place, he might have to wash their clothes or answer personal questions.

Soapy decided upon an easy way to reach the prison and that was to go and eat at a restaurant. After his meal, if he told them that he had no money they would call a cop to arrest him. The next morning the judge would send him to jail. Since his face was clean and his coat was ok he went to a restaurant but the waiters blocked his entry.

Then he went to the shop with a glass window and threw a big stone through the glass. A cop reached but he did not think that Soapy had done it because he had not tried to run away. Instead, the cop ran after another man whom he saw running. Soapy was shocked that he had failed twice.

He went to another restaurant and ate a huge meal. After finishing he said he had no money to pay, so he was thrown out instead of being given to the police. His dream of going to jail was again shattered.

Next, he began shouting and dancing on the street as if he had drunk too much. The cop ignored him, thinking that he was a noisy college boy.

After that, he stole a man’s umbrella from outside a shop door. The man followed him a while but gave up as he himself was carrying a stolen umbrella.

Finally, he came to a quiet street and stopped outside his childhood home. There was a sudden change of heart and he felt sorry for wasting his life in such a manner. He decided that he would pull himself out of the dirt in which he was and will get a job. At that moment a cop came and arrested him for hanging around. Soapy was sent to Blackwell’s prison for three months by the judge, the next day.

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