"The Cop and the Anthem" is a short story written by O. Henry. The story is about Soapy, a homeless man, and he is the protagonist of the story.

The first scene takes place at Madison Square. Soapy was sitting in the park and seemed to be moving restlessly on his seat. There were a few signs in the surroundings representing that the winter season was arriving. They were: the migration of birds from one location to another in search of food and shelter; people's need for new coats and sweaters to keep them warm. And also, Soapy moved here and there restlessly on his seat. While seeing all these indications, one can understand the winter season was coming nearer.
Migration of birds from one place to another

When Soapy was sitting on the bench, he noticed a dried leaf falling at his feet. It was a unique sign that indicates the seasonal change. When he spotted the dried leaf, he assumed it was sending a message about the winter season. So Soapy thought it was time for all the people in Madison Square to face the upcoming winter. They had to be ready with the necessary items, such as woollen clothes, sweaters, boots, and blankets, to keep them warm.
shutterstock_743608495 (1).jpg
Soapy was sitting on a bench in the park

Being a homeless man, Soapy had stayed in the park for several nights. But Soapy's mind understood the fact that the time had come for him to leave the park and find a better place to stay. He knew that he wouldn't be able to manage the chillness produced by the cool climate if he remained in the park during the winter season. So Soapy had to find a new place to take care of himself during the winter. This was the reason behind Soapy's restlessness, so he moved here and there on his seat.
Soapy only had a few hopes in his mind, and his expectations were low for winter. On the other hand, the New York people plan to visit the warmer places during the winter season. But Soapy was quite different, and he knew he couldn't expect anything more. He was not thinking of sailing away on a ship, visiting the warmer places, or even travelling to the Bay of Naples during the winter season. All he wanted was three months of stay in prison.
BeFunky-collage (6).jpg
Soapy was not thinking about sailing away on a ship or visiting the Bay of Naples (left to right)

The winter season would remain for almost three months. Hence, he preferred to stay in prison for three months until the winter gets over. The best thing Soapy wanted in his life was three months of stay in prison, food for every day and three months of protection from the bitter north wind and police officers.
Soapy wants three months of prison on Blackwell's Island

The rich people of New York City had numerous plans for the winter season. They made their plans to visit Florida or the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Soapy, on the other hand, had his plan to go to prison. The lives of wealthy New Yorkers and Soapy's are compared here to indicate that the rich people wanted to enjoy the gorgeous location while Soapy's goal was to reach the prison. During the winter season, Blackwell's Island was his pleasant home. So, while the rest of the New Yorkers were preparing for their winter vacations, Soapy was making plans to return to the jail.
BeFunky-collage (7).jpg
New Yorkers made their plans to visit Florida or the shore of the Mediterranean Sea* (left to right)
Soapy knew that the time had arrived for leaving the park because, on the previous night, Soapy felt very cold while lying on the bench. So he placed three newspapers underneath his coat, beneath his ankles, and over his legs to remain warm. The idea, however, did not go as planned. The newspapers did not keep him warm during the night in the park. The chillness made him think of Blackwell's island because he would get a bed and nice sleep if he were there.
shutterstock_1390325432 (1).svg
The newspaper did not keep Soapy warm

Soapy was aware that the city had certain facilities (charities) for helping homeless individuals. If he went there, they would feed him, give him a bed, and look after him for the rest of the winter. But, above all, Soapy preferred to remain in prison because he felt very comfortable in prison when compared to other places.
Web capture_10-6-2021_94532_.jpeg
Charities for homeless people

Soapy was proud of himself because if he stayed at any of the places, such as charities, he had to pay for it somehow. Paying, in the sense, was not in the form of money, but rather in obeying the charity people's directions. Soapy had to respond to the questions posted by the individuals who had sheltered him, and he was occasionally questioned about his personal life as well. Soapy, on the other hand, was not fond of accepting help. According to Soapy, those who give charity, have the right to intrude on one's privacy. People might support him out of pity at first, and later, they would be highly interested in learning about someone's personal life. Soapy ultimately realised that no place would be better than Blackwell's prison after forecasting everything in his mind.
Soapy, on the other hand, preferred to be a "guest" in prison. The cops never get involved in the private lives of "guests" like Soapy. The prison had a few rules, and Soapy had to follow that. He thought that his dignity could be preserved only in jail. He wanted to restore his freedom by being in prison. Therefore, Soapy decided to do something annoying to get himself arrested by the cops.
Soapy liked to spend the winter season in Blackwell's Island. However, he had to commit an offence to get to the prison. As a result, the cop would arrest him and send him to jail. Soapy believed that there were numerous simple ways to get caught by the cops. So Soapy thought of a plan and the way to execute it.

At first, Soapy thought of going to a high-class restaurant for dinner. Then, he would order the most delicious food from the restaurant, and later he would say that he had no money to pay the bill. At last, probably the restaurant owner or someone would call the police to arrest him.
Later, the policeman would arrive at the spot to catch Soapy. Then, he would be sent before the judge. The judge would make the decision to imprison Soapy. These were the things assumed and expected by Soapy. He was waiting for the moments to happen gradually.

After formulating the plan, Soapy got up from his seat and slowly walked out of the park. Later, he gradually moved towards the place where Broadway and Fifth Avenue meet each other. He walked a long distance and finally reached the north side of Broadway. Finally, his eyes caught sight of a brightly lighted restaurant. He stopped in front of the restaurant. It was a high-class restaurant. Outside the restaurant, the light sets were hung. The most delicious food items were cooked and served to guests in this restaurant. Every evening, a large number of wealthy people could be found in the restaurant. They would dress up grandly and enjoy the night with a delicious dinner.
Soapy thought of going to a brightly lighted restaurant
Soapy thought of executing his first plan. The following scene takes place in front of a high-class restaurant. Soapy most likely thought he could cheat the restaurant staff by giving them the appearance of a gentleman.

Soapy thought he looked alright above his legs. 'He had a neatly shaven face, wore a good coat and a decent tie'.* Having confidence in his appearance, Soapy imagined a lavish meal ready for him. As it was a busy restaurant, Soapy thought that if he could get a table, the success would be his. He believed that he would appear great when he sat at a table. It meant that his upper clothing gave him the appearance of a gentleman, but his lower clothing gave him the impression of a poor man because he was wearing broken shoes and torn pants. Later, he imagined that he would order a delicious dinner if he could get a seat, and the waiter would bring him what he asked for.
Soapy had a neatly shaven face, wore a good coat and a decent tie*
Soapy was assuming everything in his mind by standing outside the hotel, like what food to eat. He could see the whole dinner in his mind. 'He thought of ordering food like a roasted mallard duck, Camembert, and a demi-tasse'.** Here, Soapy decided to eat well, but not so expensive as to raise suspicion or make hotel management to take severe actions, but just enough to get him arrested by a cop as planned.
BeFunky-collage (8).jpg
Soapy thought of ordering food like a roasted mallard duck, Camembert, and a demi-tasse** (left to right)

Soapy's desire was not only to enjoy a wonderful meal but also the way for going to prison. If his wish became true and his plan gets succeeded, it would easily pave the way for his journey to his winter home (prison).

Having decided to enter the restaurant, Soapy put his foot inside the restaurant door. At that time, the head waiter standing near the door saw Soapy's broken shoes and torn clothes covering his legs. Immediately, he was sent out of the restaurant by the "strong and ready hands". The phrase "strong and ready hands" meant that the head waiter moved Soapy immediately out of the restaurant without letting him in. The head waiter silently turned Soapy and quickly moved him outside. The tattered shoes and damaged clothing reflected Soapy's reality in front of the head waiter. At last, his first plan had flopped (failed).
man pushing.svg
The strong and steady hands pushed Soapy out
After his first effort to enter the jail was unsuccessful, Soapy left Broadway. He believed that this most easy way to reach the Blackwell’s Island was not to be his. So he must think of another plan to reach the prison.

The following scene takes place in front of a shop. Soapy noticed a shop on the corner of Sixth Avenue. It was a shop that sold glass-plates. A large glass window with strong electric lighting made the glass objects appear to be appealing. On seeing that, he had a sudden idea. He walked over to the shop, grabbed a cobblestone, and threw it through the glass window. Later, because of the force of the stone, the window glass shattered.
Soapy took a stone and threw it over the glass window
People hurried towards the shop when they saw it. As a result, the first person to arrive at the crime spot was a police officer. Soapy smiled when he saw the policeman and stood still because he was happy to see the cop and thought that very soon he would be arrested by him. This was the most awaited moment of Soapy.

The policeman came forward and asked, “Where’s the man that did that?” At that time, Soapy said, “Don’t you think that I might have done it?” Soapy spoke to the police officer in a happy and friendly way because he had done everything for a purpose, and the things were happening as per his plan. He wished for the officer to take him into custody.

To his misfortune, the police officer never doubted him and accepted him as the culprit. The policeman thought that men who committed mistakes wouldn’t stand in front of him and accept their mistakes. He would try to escape from the place. Meanwhile, the policeman saw a man running along the street to 'catch a car'.*** He thought the man who was running was the real culprit. The policeman ran after the man to catch him. Soapy never expected his second plan would go wrong. He was upset and felt helpless. He started to walk in a depressed state. Finally, Soapy got failed in his second attempt too.
The next scene takes place in front of an ordinary restaurant. Soapy saw a restaurant across the street. The restaurant was not as large as the former Broadway "high-class restaurant". This was a local restaurant with reasonably priced dishes for middle-class people. Furthermore, the food in that restaurant was not as good as it had been in the previous restaurant. As it was an ordinary restaurant, he stepped inside the restaurant with his damaged shoes and torn clothes. After seeing his dressing, no one stopped him. While reading the story, one can distinguish the two types of restaurants into which Soapy visited. The person's look was valued in the first restaurant; therefore, he was sent away. On the other hand, when he stepped inside the ordinary hotel, no one bothered about his appearance.

Soapy sat down at a table and ordered a big dinner. 'He ate beefsteak, flapjacks, and doughnuts'.**** When he finished his dinner, he told the waiter that he had no money to pay the bill. Soapy told the waiter to call the police immediately for cheating them. Soapy also stated, "And don't keep a gentleman waiting," implying that he wanted them to hand him over to a cop immediately.
BeFunky-collage (9).jpg
Soapy ate beefsteak and doughnut****
The waiter said that calling a cop was unnecessary, and he called another waiter to accompany him. The two waiters threw Soapy outside. Soapy's left ear hit the pavement when he fell on the road. Soapy carefully rose up, one section of his body at a time, and brushed the dust off his clothes. For him, prison seemed like a wonderful dream. But, the island appeared to be a long way away from him. The statement does not refer to the distance, but it does imply that getting into the jail was difficult because he had failed in his three attempts.
fell down.svg
Soapy fell on the hard street
A policeman who was standing near laughed at him and walked away without saying anything to him. Soapy continued to walk after that. He eventually stopped walking. At that time, Soapy was standing near several movie theatres. In comparison to the previous areas he had been in, he noticed that the particular streets of the city appeared to be brighter and the people seemed to be having a good time.
laughing cop.svg
A cop laughed at seeing Soapy and walked away
Women and men dressed in grand warm coats and moved merrily through the winter air. At that time, Soapy was taken aback by a sudden fear. He was afraid that no police officer would arrest him, and so he could not reach his winter home.
Woman and man dressed in warm coats and walking through the winter air

Soapy then noticed another police officer standing in front of a big theatre and moved closer to him. He thought of trying a new plan. Soapy believed that if he broke any laws, the officer would catch him right away. This was the reason behind Soapy standing near a cop.
Suddenly, Soapy got an idea to execute his fourth plan. He began to shout as if he had drunk too much alcohol. To seek the attention of the cop, Soapy raised his voice as much as he could. He danced and yelled out loudly. He planned to create trouble and get caught by the police. But the policeman stopped looking at Soapy and said to a man standing near him as “It’s one of those college boys”. 'The boys were from “Yale's College,” which had recently defeated “Hartford College” in a football game. The college students were dancing and making louder noises to celebrate their victory'.***** According to the officer, these people will shout louder and will not injure anyone else. The cop also stated that they had received orders from higher-ranking authorities to allow them to enjoy. Unfortunately, the cop had misunderstood "Soapy" as a college student. So he did not arrest him.
howling man.svg
Soapy yelled out to seek the attention of the cop

Even after making louder noises, the cop never minded him. So Soapy remained silent. Soapy thought to himself that “Was no cop going to touch him?” Soapy began to imagine the island as if it were as far away as a star. He compared the island to a star that seemed to be far away from him. The stars are miles away from the earth. Likewise, the island appeared to be far away from him. However, if he commits a crime, he will be very close to it. Later, he felt very cold as the cool breeze touched him. So he pulled his thin coat around him.
The next scene takes place in front of a shop. Soapy then noticed a man in the shop buying a newspaper. The man kept his umbrella beside the door. On seeing the umbrella, Soapy thought of a plan. So he entered the shop and took the umbrella and walked slowly away from there.
man buying newspaper.svg
A man buying a newspaper in a shop

But when the man noticed Soapy stealing his umbrella, he followed him. The man approached Soapy and said that the umbrella was his. Soapy immediately answered that if it was his umbrella, he could report it to the cop. Soapy also acknowledged that he had taken the umbrella and asked, “Why don’t you call a cop?” Soapy’s intention was to make the man angry and so he could complain to the cop. Soapy also told him that a cop was standing at the corner. This was the another way of conveying him to call a cop.

When the umbrella man saw the cop, he walked very slowly. Soapy also walked slowly as the man did because he was worried that whether his plan would fail again. Soapy had the inner feeling that he was about to fail once more. However, a cop was standing nearby and watched the activities of the two men.
The umbrella man swiftly disclosed his truth to Soapy when a police officer observed the argument. He explained that he had found the umbrella in a restaurant earlier in the morning. He also stated that he was not the owner of the umbrella. The umbrella man said to Soapy, “If you say it’s yours, I hope you’ll—” On hearing that, Soapy exploded in anger and said that the umbrella was his. Soapy never expected the man would tell him it wasn’t his umbrella. Soapy’s main intention was that the umbrella owner would argue with him to finalise it was his umbrella. However, things became twisted, and the man told him he had got it from somewhere. At last, Soapy felt lost and dejected. His fifth strategy also got failed.

When Soapy shouted in anger, the umbrella man left the place. The police stopped staring at both of them when the argument was done. Later, the policeman helped a woman in crossing the street. Then, Soapy started walking towards the east. Finally, due to anger, Soapy threw the umbrella away as far as he could because whatever plan he had thought had just failed.
Soapy threw the umbrella away

While walking, Soapy talked to himself about the cops and the things he thought of cops. Soapy thought that the cops would arrest him if he did any wrong. He wished to be captured by the cops several times. But here, the cops seemed to believe Soapy was like a king who would not commit any wrong. Soapy became increasingly desperate and furious over his concurrent failed attempts.
After trying hard to get caught by the policeman, Soapy's various plans got failed. Finally, he reached one of the quiet streets on the side of the city. He decided to walk south towards Madison Square. He planned many tricks to get caught by the police, but he failed in every attempt. So in sadness, Soapy thought of going home. As everyone knew, Soapy was a homeless and jobless man. But here, he was going "home" meant that he was going back to Madison Square park. According to him, "a seat in the park" was only his home.

Soapy stopped walking while he saw a quiet corner. 'There, he saw an old church. It was his childhood home'.****** He could see a soft light shining out through one of the windows. The room where light peeped out was his older room. At the same time, while seeing that, Soapy recalled the happy times he had had spent in his childhood home. At that moment, Soapy heard a sweet music coming out through the window and it made him stop there.
Soapy stopped in front of an old church (childhood home)
As it was night time, Soapy could see the moon above the sky. The moon seemed peaceful and bright. Few people were passing here and there near the country churchyard. Soapy could hear the chirping sounds of the birds sitting on the edges of the roof. The music made him to stop there and he had known it well long ago.
A peaceful moon
The music was nothing but "Sabbath anthem".******* Anthem is a religious song sung by a choir with organ music. The anthem was being played by an organist inside the living room, and Soapy heard that sweet music coming through the window. The anthem made Soapy to think of his past. During his childhood, his life contained many good things like mothers, flowers, high hopes, friends, clean clothes and even clean thoughts.
In our story "The Cop and the Anthem", the term "anthem" plays an important role because it gave a big transformation in Soapy's spirit. The Anthem had made a sudden and unexpected change in his spirit. He recalled the vast transformation that he had in his life. Soapy had gone through a lot of meaningless days, and he had a lot of bad wishes like getting into the prison by committing a sin. His dead hopes and lost power of mind had made him to fall into the pit.
While thinking about his bad transformations, his heart had answered him a way to change his life. It instructed him to fight to change his life. Here fight doesn't mean violence, it speaks about the hard work. If a person works hard he would come up in his life. Soapy would pull himself out from the mud. Here, mud implies the wrong desires, wrong hopes and wrong intentions he had in his life. Soapy would come out from his worst part of life and would start a new life. Because of the music, he decided that he wanted to be a good person in his life.
Soapy thought that there was enough time for him to change himself. After all, he was a young man and he had many ways to change his life. He thought to himself that the next morning he would find a new job. At that moment, while thinking about the job, Soapy remembered a man who offered him a job once. He thought of meeting the man the next day. Then, he thought that if the man gives him the job, he will become somebody in the world. The world seemed very big with lots of people. Among them, he had to find the man for his job. While he was thinking about a new life, Soapy felt a hand on his arm. Soapy turned back and saw the broad face of a cop.
The cop asked him what he was doing here in the night time and Soapy said that it was "nothing". The cop asked whether he needs to believe what he said. On hearing that, Soapy started to argue with him with full of new strength. But it was not good to argue with a New York cop. Finally, the cop arrested him. The cop would have arrested Soapy without proper investigation because he believed that Soapy was doing something wrong. Or it could also be because Soapy had argued with him.
cop arrest.svg
The cop arrested Soapy for arguing with him
The next morning Soapy was sent before the judge. The judge sentenced him to "Three months prison on Blackwell’s Island”. The writer ends the story in Irony. When Soapy thought of going to the jail, his destiny did not help him. When he yearned to lead a good life, the life had made him to fall down and sent him to the prison. This is what life is. What we expect would not happen and what we did not expect would happen. O. Henry had concluded the story with an unexpected and twisted ending.
The judge gave the judgement as three month of prison on Blackwell's Island