The Ransom of Red Chief

by O. Henry

Start Free Trial

In The Ransom of Red Chief, Bill and his friend would think several times before attempting another kidnap. Why ?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The petty criminals Sam and Bill in O. Henry's humorous story "The Ransom of Red Chief" bit off more than they could chew when they kidnapped Ebenezer Dorset's son, a.k.a. Red Chief. The fact is, the kidnapping took its toll on them physically, mentally/emotionally, and financially. Bill in particular suffered physically at Red Chief's hands (and feet and mouth). He had bruises on his lower legs from being kicked, he had a swollen area behind his left ear from being hit by a rock Red Chief threw, and he had several bites on his hands, not to mention he hadn't slept for over 24 hours. Emotionally Bill was humiliated, terrorized, lost his nerve, and was pestered to distraction by incessant questioning and blather from the boy. His "spirit was broken." Mentally, he was in such a state that Sam feared for his mind. Sam himself, though he wouldn't admit it, was afraid of being burned at the stake at dawn. In the end, instead of gaining the $2500 they hoped to extort from Dorset, they ended up paying him $250 to take his boy back. So for their own physical, mental, and financial health, the men will think very seriously before they attempt another kidnap. 

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team