Soapy the bum

Soapy the bum

Soapy the bum is the main character in O. Henry's classic story "The Cop and the Anthem". He is a bum (ironically named Soapy even with his aversion to bathing) who enjoys getting locked up in jail for the winter months instead of sleeping outside.

The story of The Cop and The Anthem written by O. Henry revolves around a New York City hobo named Soapy. He wants to be arrested because he wants to spend the winter in a jail. He does not want to be in a charitable institution. Soapy prefers to be in a jail than a charitable institution because he just wanted to spend the winter in jail and since one season lasts only three months and the punishment for petty crimes also lasts three months. If he enters the charitable institution he can't leave anymore, but he wants to be free.

Plot Summary

The short story follows Soapy's attempts to attract the attention of cops so he would be arrested and could spend the next 3 months in prison. But poor Soapy finds to his chagrin that his fortune has run out!! Whatever he tries, something intervenes.

He first goes to a restaurant where the baron asks him to get out just by taking a look at his tattered pants!! In the next restaurant he is admitted. But when he has no money he is manhandled and thrown out. He misbehaves as if drunk with a policeman but the police tells a passer-by "It is one of then Yale lads celebrating the goose-egg they gave Harvard! We have orders to let them be". Then he passes lewd comments at a woman, near the vicinity of a cop. Not only is the woman a prostitute, but also the cop walks away to assist a blonde alighting from a car!!

His immunity to cops makes him furious and all other attempts too go down the drain leaving him perplexed of the prospects of spending the long cold winter on his bench in Madison St. The twist in the story comes towards the end. He stands by the window of a Church and hears the organ being played. And it convicts him. He remembers a fur-importer who offered him a job. He now feels he could start life honourably. At that point of time he feels a tap on his shoulder. And is arrested by a cop for loitering. And the judge sentences him to three months of prison.


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