Character of Jimmy Valentine and Ben Price in the story “Alias Jimmy Valentine” by O Henry

Jimmy Valentine

Jimmy Valentine is the young and handsome hero of the story, “Alias Jimmy Valentine.” His personality is highly impressive. Although he was an infamous safecracker at the beginning, he elevates himself as an honest lover and successful businessman. At Elmore, he assumes the name Ralph D. Spencer and opens a shoe store. In prison, he learned the art of shoe-making which incidentally helps him to establish himself as an honest businessman. At Elmore, when he attracts the eyes of Miss. Annabel Adams, he becomes a new man. At the bank when a little girl gets locked inside the vault he rescues the girl at the risk of the revelation of his past life. He uses the burglar’s tools to save the girl. He proves himself honest to his new identity. His reformation from a burglar to an honest man makes Ben Price so sympathetic that he does not arrest him. In all, Jimmy Valentine is a very interesting character.


Ben Price

Ben Price was the detective who investigated the cases of burglary committed by Jimmy Valentine. After Jimmy’s release, three cases of burglary were reported. This time also Ben Price was to find out the burglar. By investigating the manner and method of burglary, he realized that Jimmy had resumed burglary. Following Jimmy, he went to Elmore. There he observed Jimmy’s shoe store and present position. At the bank, when Jimmy used the burglar’s tools to rescue the little girl at the risk of the revelation of his past life Ben Price realized that Jimmy was a changed man. For this, he did not arrest him. Rather he pretended not to know Jimmy when Jimmy surrendered himself. This shows that Ben Price was a good judge of human character. He had compassion for the reformed burglar. Although he had vowed to arrange for the full sentence of Jimmy, he allowed Jimmy to lead an honest life. As a detective, he is very successful. He deserves our special respect as a good man.

Also read: Summary of the story “Alias Jimmy Valentine” by O Henry