A Retrieved Reformation

A Retrieved Reformation Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Jimmy's Appearance (Motif)

"A Retrieved Reformation" cites Jimmy's youthful and pleasing appearance several times, as it is what allows him to gain strangers' trust, which he can then exploit. Since Jimmy does not exhibit visible signs of criminality or ill-intent, the chief prison officer believes that Jimmy has a good heart. Jimmy's looks come up again when he changes into decent clothes at Mike Dolan's. In Elmore, Jimmy's youthful looks make Annabel blush, and his fine and respectable appearance garners the hotel clerk's confidence. Later, the employees at the Elmore bank are pleased to see that Annabel has such a nice-looking fiancé. Ultimately, his appearance operates on two levels: while his looks do allow him to disguise his duplicity, his pleasant demeanor also betrays his true good nature.

Jimmy's Safecracking Tools (Symbol)

Just as shoes symbolize honest work and an honest life, Jimmy's safecracking tools are a symbol of his identity as a criminal. Jimmy designed the tools to his own exacting specifications, and Ben Price understands him to be the only man capable of using such tools properly. When Jimmy decides to put an end to his identity as a safecracker, he bequeaths the tools to a friend. In the end, Jimmy commits a selfless act by freeing Agatha from the vault. The tools are tied to his identity: as soon as he starts using them, Ralph Spencer dies and Jimmy re-inhabits his old identity.

Annabel's Rose (Symbol)

Before Jimmy reveals himself by freeing Agatha from the vault, Jimmy asks Annabel for the rose she has pinned to her outfit. He understands that he is likely going to lose her love; in anticipation, he asks for the flower as a symbol of her and the love they shared. He pockets the rose in his vest, where it is safe, and after opening the vault, he walks to the door. Since it is clear by the end of the story that Jimmy knew Ben was closing in, the reader can infer that Jimmy intended to bring the flower with him to prison in order to have something by which he could remember Annabel.