The irony in "The Ransom of Red Chief" runs throughout the story. The most extreme example of it comes with the core incident: the reversal of the kidnapping. In a classic straightforward kidnapping, the criminals take a person. They have the power, and the kidnapped person becomes the victim, and lives at their mercy. They get money for returning the victim safely. By contrast, in this story the kidnappers end up at the mercy of the little boy, and the letter asks them to pay in order to give the boy back: " You bring Johnny home and pay me two hundred and fifty dollars in cash, and I agree to take him off your hands." The entire situation is reversed and the criminals end up running away. That's pretty ironic.