After Twenty Years deals with themes relating to conflicting ideas and opposing choices. Loyalty versus the law is one that is evident, as the police officer, Jimmy Wells, had to choose between the loyalty of his friend and the law in which he served. In this way, there shows the theme of choices. One friend chose to follow a path of good by working on the side of the law and the other chose to follow a path of bad by living a life of crime, as well as the choices made for the criminal to meet his good friend even though it jeopardised his freedom, and the choice made by Jimmy when he arrested him. It can be seen from this outcome that there is also a theme of doing the right thing even though it is hard, as Jimmy tells his good friend Bob when he arrests him.
“Bob: I was at the appointed place on time. When you struck the match to light your cigar I saw it was the face of the man wanted in Chicago. Somehow I couldn’t do it myself, so I went around and got a plain clothes man to do the job. JIMMY.”
It can be seen once reading this note to Bob from Jimmy that the themes are justified within the text. Throughout the story, these themes are not evident, as they are only recognisable once the story has reached its climax.