What examples of exaggeration are found in O. Henry's short story, "The Ransom of Red Chief"?

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kathik | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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O. Henry is not only a king of irony, but he also peppers his writing with exaggeration. "The Ransom of Red Chief" is no exception. Right at the beginning, when Sam and Bill first kidnap Johnny (Red Chief), O. Henry writes,

"That boy put up a fight like a welterweight cinnamon bear,' but, at last, we got him down in the bottom of the buggy and drove away."

Later, after Sam catches Red Chief trying to scalp Bill, O. Henry exaggerates,

"He (Bill) laid down on his side of the bed, but he never closed an eye again in sleep as long as that boy was with us."

When the men write the ransom note to Mr. Dorset, they exaggerate about where they are. Even though they are hiding very close to Summit, where the boy is from, the letter says they have the boy, "...concealed in a place far from Summit.

Probably the biggest exaggeration of all is found at the very end of the story, when Bill and Sam return Red Chief to his father and ask how long he can hold him. Mr. Dorset says he can give them about 10 minutes.

"Enough," says Bill. "In ten minutes I shall cross the central, Southern, and Middle Western States and be legging it trippingly for the Canadian border."

If you read closely, you will find some sort of exaggeration on just about every page of "The Ransom of Red Chief"!

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