After Twenty Years demonstrates key aspects of short story writing including narration, themes, dialogue and ending. The short story uses a clear narrative sequence whereby there is evidence of an exposition, complication, crisis, falling action, and resolution. The characterisation is strong, as although there are only two protagonists and one flat antagonist, these characters are vital to the resolution of the story and the overall themes portrayed. The story is developed through the use of dialogue, but the themes shown are only evident upon the ending of the story. This ending is expressed as a twist after the climax, and gives an ironic resolution to the story. The ending is constructed specifically to the plot, and although it is surprisingly unpredictable, it is one that is still satisfying and interesting to the readers.
After Twenty Years by O’Henry is a short story published in the book The Four Million, which features all stories about ordinary people in everyday circumstances. After Twenty Years fits in to this description, as the story expresses a realistic situation between Bob and Jimmy. Although it is very simple with little descriptive detail, the story explores themes consistent with loyalty verses law, choices as well as doing the right thing even though it is hard. These themes are relatable to readers, giving perspective to a story based around conflicting ideas of friendship and right and wrong. It is with the use of these themes that the story is able to come to a complete closure, allowing readers to truly understand the twist ending and irony that is evident within the text.