A short summary of the story Alias Jimmy Valentine by O Henry

The story “Alias Jimmy Valentine” is based on O henry’s classic story “A Retrieved Reformation”. Jimmy Valentine is the alias of an expert safecracker. He has been in prison for ten months for his crimes. As the story begins, Jimmy is called to the warden’s office. Before handing Jimmy his pardon from the governor, the warden advises him to stop safe-cracking and to lead an honest life.

Jimmy leaves prison the next morning, takes breakfast at the nearest restaurant, and boards a train to meet his friend Mike Dolan. He goes to his room, packs up his safecracking tools, and leaves. A week after his release, three cases of safe-cracking are reported. Detective Ben Price realizes that these burglaries are committed in Jimmy’s style. That bears the hallmark of Jimmy. Jimmy has fled and now he is in the small town, Elmore. There he attracts the eye of the banker’s beautiful daughter, Annabel Adams, and falls in love with her. He is transformed. He takes up the name of Ralph D. Spencer, opens a shoe store, and becomes a successful businessman. At the end of the year, he gains social prestige, develops a friend circle of his own, and soon gets engaged to Annabel. To give up his criminal career, he writes a letter to an old friend and tells him to meet him in Sully’s bar. Jimmy plans to give this friend his set of safecracking tools. By this time Ben Price arrives in Elmore, spots Jimmy Valentine, and gets the information that he is going to marry the banker’s daughter.

Before leaving the town with his burglar’s tools in his suitcase, Jimmy goes to the bank along with Annabel, Annabel’s sister, and nieces. Annabel’s father wants to show them the brand new vault. While all are inspecting the new vault, the elder girl playfully locks her sister in the vault. As the timelock has not been set yet, the vault cannot be opened. Tension and apprehension rise as there is not much air in the vault. All are terrified. The little girl screams in terror. In this situation, Annabel begs Jimmy to do something to rescue the trapped girl. Alias Ralph now faces the real challenge. Taking the risk of revealing his past, he uses his burglar’s tools to save the girl. Ben Price watches the dramatic scene. Jimmy now wants to leave the place. He meets Ben Price and surrenders himself. But Ben Price pretends not to recognize him and walks away.

Also read; Short summary of O Henry’s “The Last Leaf”