The Ransom of Red Chief

by O. Henry

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How would you describe Red Chief in "The Ransom of Red Chief" by O. Henry?

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Red Chief, as Johnny Dorset likes to call himself, is the freckle-faced ten-year-old son of Ebenezer Dorset, one of the wealthiest men in Summit, Alabama. Red Chief is an apt nickname because he has bright red hair, and immediately becomes the "chief" over the two petty criminals who kidnap him. Red Chief is a bully; when he first appears in the story, he is throwing bricks at a cat, and as part of his "during-dinner speech," he reveals that he "whipped Ed Walker twice" in the same day. He certainly bullies Bill Driscoll, throwing bricks and rocks at him, forcing him to crawl on his hands and knees across rough terrain while he rides on his back, and nearly scalping him. Johnny is quite physically strong: he puts up a fight when the kidnappers capture him like a "welter-weight cinnamon bear" and he kicks Bill hard, producing plenty of bruises. The boy is loud and loquacious; his war whoops and constant jabbering wear on the men's nerves. He seems to have boundless energy; he stays up half the night and thinks up endless "games" to play with Bill. By his own admission, Red Chief doesn't like school, yet he seems very curious, although he doesn't stop talking long enough to get answers to any of his questions. In short, the boy turns out to be more than the men bargained for, and they end up paying dearly to rid themselves of their "Chief." 

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