In "The Ransom of Red Chief, how does O. Henry create suspense?

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

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O. Henry creates suspense in "The Ransom of Red Chief" through the narrator's words and the actions within the story. In the beginning, we find out that these two men are going to kidnap a boy to fund some new illegal venture they have planned. We wonder, "Will they get away with it?" That's suspense. Later, we find out Johnny, a.k.a. "Red Chief" is nothing at all like what the men, Sam and Bill, thought he would be. After Red Chief nearly takes Bill's scalp, we wonder if he is going to follow through on his threat to broil Sam "at the stake at the rising of the sun."  (Henry 4) The feeling that we cannot wait to get to the next part of the story is suspense. Soon we find ourselves wondering if these poor guys are ever going to be able to rid themselves of the mischievous boy when his father turns the tables on them by demanding they pay him to take Red Chief back!

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