“The Cop and the Anthem” is a short story written by O. Henry. It tells the tale of a homeless man named Soapy who tries to get arrested so he can spend the winter months in a warm jail cell. However, his attempts at committing minor crimes are thwarted each time. In the end, Soapy gives up and decides to find a different path in life.
The story is set in New York City during the winter season. Soapy, dressed in shabby clothes, walks the streets of the city with a sense of despair. As he observes the wealthy people passing by, he becomes increasingly aware of his dire situation and longs for a warm place to stay during the cold winter.
Soapy formulates a plan to get arrested and spend the winter in jail, where he believes he will have food, shelter, and warmth. He starts by breaking a windowpane at a department store, hoping to catch the attention of a passing policeman. However, the store owner spots him and promptly calls the police. Soapy is unsuccessful in his first attempt.
Undeterred, Soapy decides to take a different approach. He decides to feign illness and attempts to get arrested for loitering near a church. He believes that his act will attract the attention of a policeman, who will arrest him and take him to a warm cell. Unfortunately for Soapy, his act only garners sympathy from the churchgoers, who offer him money and assistance instead of alerting the police.
Soapy’s next plan involves starting a fight with a well-dressed gentleman. He believes that if he can provoke the man into a physical altercation, a nearby policeman will intervene and arrest him. However, the intended victim sees through Soapy’s scheme and quickly flees the scene, leaving Soapy alone and frustrated.
As winter sets in, Soapy becomes increasingly desperate. He realizes that his attempts to get arrested have failed, and he contemplates his situation. One evening, as he sits on a park bench, he overhears a beautiful anthem being sung at a nearby church. The anthem touches Soapy’s heart, and he is overcome with a desire to change his life.
Soapy decides to give up on his pursuit of a warm jail cell and instead resolves to reform himself. He is determined to find work and start anew. With a renewed sense of hope, Soapy sets out to make a fresh start, leaving his life as a homeless man behind.
“The Cop and the Anthem” is a poignant story that explores themes of desperation, redemption, and the human spirit’s resilience. Through the character of Soapy, O. Henry highlights the importance of hope, perseverance, and the capacity for change.
The Cop and the Anthem Questions Answers
Q1. Who is the author of “The Cop and the Anthem”?
Ans: “The Cop and the Anthem” is a short story written by O. Henry. O. Henry is the pen name of William Sydney Porter, an American writer known for his witty and clever short stories.
Q2. When was “The Cop and the Anthem” published?
Ans: “The Cop and the Anthem” was first published in 1904 as part of O. Henry’s collection of short stories titled “The Four Million.”
Q3. What is the main idea or theme of “The Cop and the Anthem”?
Ans: The main themes of “The Cop and the Anthem” include desperation, the desire for change, and the resilience of the human spirit. It explores the story of Soapy, a homeless man who longs to spend the winter in jail for the sake of warmth and shelter but eventually realizes the need for self-improvement and a fresh start in life.
Q4. Where is “The Cop and the Anthem” set?
Ans: “The Cop and the Anthem” is set in New York City during the winter season. The story takes place on the bustling streets, in parks, and near a church in the city.
Q5. What is Soapy’s plan to get arrested?
Ans: Soapy’s plan to get arrested involves committing minor crimes or creating situations that would draw the attention of a police officer. He initially tries breaking a windowpane at a department store, then feigns illness near a church, and finally attempts to start a fight with a well-dressed gentleman.
Q6. Does Soapy succeed in getting arrested?
Ans: No, Soapy’s attempts to get arrested are unsuccessful. Each time he tries to commit a crime or create a situation to attract a policeman, circumstances or the people involved thwarting his plans. Despite his desperate efforts, he is unable to achieve his goal of spending the winter in jail.
Q7. What leads to Soapy’s change of heart at the end?
Ans: Soapy’s change of heart occurs when he overhears a beautiful anthem being sung at a nearby church while sitting on a park bench. The anthem touches him emotionally, reminding him of his lost dreams and inspiring him to seek a different path. It serves as a catalyst for his decision to abandon his quest for a warm jail cell and instead reform himself.
Q8. Does the story have a happy ending?
Ans: While “The Cop and the Anthem” does not have a conventionally happy ending, it ends on a note of hope and redemption. Soapy’s realization and decision to change his life indicate the possibility of a brighter future for him. The story leaves room for the reader to imagine the outcomes of Soapy’s newfound determination and his pursuit of a better life.